Jimmy Dimora being sued for unpaid legal fees

4:24 PM, Feb 29, 2012   |    comments
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With no verdict yet in his Cuyahoga County corruption trial in federal court in Akron, former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora is already scheduled to be back in court in Cleveland on April 5.

That afternoon, he's scheduled to appear at a pre-trial hearing in another case, this time in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

That's where his former attorneys, Richard Lillie and Gretchen Holderman, have sued Dimora for $79,325, court records show.

They say that's how much Dimora still owes them for their services. The two represented him from his arrest Sept. 15, 2008, until December 12, 2010.

Lillie was seen watching Dimora in federal court in Akron from the public viewing room a few weeks ago. He allegedly told a bystander that he was there to watch Dimora because Dimora still owed him $80,000.

When approached by Channel 3 in the courthouse cafe minutes later, he denied being in the building for the Dimora case, saying he was there "on another matter."

In December 2010, Dimora said he couldn't get more money to pay Lillie and Holderman because the government put a lien on his $439,000 home in Independence, a home that was already paid off.

The government partially lifted the lien and, in February, 2011, Fifth Third Bank gave Dimora a $239,000 mortgage on the Forestwood Drive home.

But instead of giving that money to Lillie and Holderman, Dimora allegedly gave nearly all of that money to attorneys Bill and Andrea Whitaker, who began representing him in the corruption case. Legal experts asked said his defense is likely going to cost between $300,000 and $500,000.

The Whitakers are not representing Dimora in that civil case and, last summer, Dimora hired Broadview Heights attorney David S. Anthony to handle his defense against Lillie and Holderman. 

Ironically, the first judge randomly assigned to the case when Lillie and Holderman filed it on May 3, 2011, was then-Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Steven Terry, who was on paid leave then during his own corruption trial and a visiting judge was hearing his cases.

Terry, 53, was found found guilty this summer in his own county corruption case, resigned from the bench, and the case is now before Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Pamela A. Barker, appointed to replace Terry by Gov. John Kasich.

Terry was sentenced to 63 months in prison in October, 2011, after being found guilty on three of the five charges he was facing.

He is serving his sentence in the McDowell federal prison facility in Welch, West Virginia, about 48 miles southwest of Beckley, and is scheduled for release on June 4, 2016.

Another Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge involved in the Cuyahoga County corruption probe is also serving her sentence in a federal prison in West Virginia.

Former Judge Bridget McCafferty, 45, is serving a 14-month sentence after being found guilty on 10 out of 10 counts of lying to the FBI last summer. She reported to the U.S. Attorneys on Sept,. 15, 2011, just hours after she lost an appeal to stay free.

Ironically, the day she reported was exactly one year to the day -- Sept. 15, 2010 -- that McCafferty turned herself in to the FBI early in the morning when she learned of the grand jury indictment against her.

McCafferty is serving her sentence at Alderson federal prison camp, in Alderson, West Virginia, near White Sulphur Springs. Her release date is scheduled for Sept. 17, 2012. It's the same place domestic diva Martha Stewart served her five-month sentence starting in October 2004.

Another nearby prison inmate is Vincent Russo, the son of former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo. Frank Russo, 56, pleaded guilty to 21 counts in late 2010 and was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison.

Frank Russo has remained out of prison so far as he is a federal prosecution witness and has already testified in three county corruption trials. He now has no scheduled date to report to prison.

Frank Russo said he took the plea deal to protect his son, family and domestic partner Michael Calabrese from any further prosecution from federal officials.

His son Vincent Russo, 31, pleaded guilty to bribery charges on Sept. 17, 2010, and was sentenced Dec. 10, 2010, to 18 months in prison.

He reported to Elkton federal prison in Pennsylvania, about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, in February 2011. He is scheduled to be released on June 13 this year.

Ironically, Frank Russo will still be free that day, as he is already scheduled to testify at the county corruption trial of Samir Mohammad and Hamdi "Sam" Qasem that is scheduled to begin jury selection on June 8 in federal court in Akron.


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