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Dimora prosecutor: "This was a disgusting, dirty world..."

3:21 PM, Mar 1, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- Federal prosecutor Antoinette Bacon began the government's rebuttal of defense attorneys' closing arguments just after 11 a.m. Thursday.

Her first remark was "Mr. Christman was right, this was a disgusting, dirty world..." in reference to Cuyahoga County government under then-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and then-Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo.

Just before 10:30 a.m. Thursday, attorney Leif Christman had just completed his closing argument on behalf of his client Michael Gabor and Bacon's rebuttal followed right after his remarks.

Jimmy Dimora's attorneys, the father-daughter team of Bill and Andrea Whitaker, completed their closing argument on Wednesday.

Bacon hammered away, saying that "Michael Gabor jumped in feet-first...into that world of bribery, corruption, fraud and obstruction."

She added that "It is not a defense to claim that a public official would have lawfully performed the official action in question even without having accepted a thing of value...the intent to exchange may be established by circumstantial evidence, based upon the defendant's words, conduct, acts, and all the surrounding circumstances."

"Quid pro quo does not have to be spoken...it can be inferred..." she added.

She said that "Dimora doesn't pay with his checkbook, he pays with his power and influence..."

Regarding the fact that Steve Pumper never sent Dimora a bill for all those home improvements at his home from 2002 to 2007, Bacon said, "If a bill really wanted to be sent, a bill could have been sent. There were no calls, no testimony that Dimora said he was going to pay."

Bacon also said, "Not everybody has to be in on every crime together.  Just like the kicker doesn't go in on every play (in a football game). Gabor was not on the top of the RICO Pyramid, but he was on the team. He didn't make as much money as the others, but he was on the team."

Bacon made sure to mention Dimora's co-defendant repeatedly. "Gabor was his (Dimora's) servant, not a public servant."

She gave an overall view that "Brick by brick, piece by piece, scheme by scheme. It was a criminal world. It was a world that Michael Gabor helped Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo create, and helped them cover their tracks. ...Find them guilty of every single one of these crimes as charged."

In his closing, Christman asked the jury not to believe the witnesses for the government because they were "...liars..."

Christman told the jury "They put Michael Gabor in the middle of the scheme and ...I ain't buyin' it, don't you buy it...."

Christman was especially specific about Frank Russo and told the jury that Russo was making up things to delay his reporting to prison.

He said "...Come on, man, really Frank...this guy doesn't have to go to jail until his testimony is over.... the guy might die of natural causes before he does a day in jail...this is the unsubstantiated version by Frank Russo... it's sick...don't let the government wrap that man in the American flag...a man who began stealing from the county right after he took office..."

Russo, 56, of Bratenahl, already pleaded guilty to 22 counts and was sentenced in 2010 to 21 years and 10 months in prison. He remains free on bond on a plea agreement with prosecutor to testify against other defendants.  

Christman ended with "...if you've heard anything bad in this trial, please don't take it out against my client...."

To that, Bacon included in her rebuttal a characterization of the government's witnesses that "...these are not Girl Scouts. This is about criminal enterprises and corruption.  If it were not about corruption, the witnesses would be the pope and priests and bishops."

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