Judge OKs release of some Dimora evidence

7:32 AM, Apr 30, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- After federal court closed Friday, U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi ordered that a small part of the 1,200 exhibits seen and heard in the first trial of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora will be released publicly.

The release was in response to WKYC-TV's request, as well as requests by other media outlets.

The U.S. Attorney said Monday the exhibits are being prepared and should be released by mid-week.

Judge Lioi has already ruled that none of the hundreds of FBI wiretaps nor the video surveillance evidence would be released because of the pending trials of other county corruption defendants and what she has referred to as "Dimora II trial" as well.

"The court must balance the public's interest against the court's own obligation to ensure that Dimora and other defendants receive fair trials in the future," she wrote.

That trial, which involves Dimora, 56, of Independence. and co-defendant Michael Forlani, 54, of Gates Mills, the former president of Doan Pyramid Electric, is scheduled to start with jury selection Oct. 17.

Forlani and Dimora were indicted Oct. 21, 2011 -- Forlani on 18 counts and Dimora on new counts of bribery, conspiracy and racketeering. Both pleaded not guilty.

The trial of former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo's employee Samir Mohammad is set to begin June 8. 

Lioi refers to the trial that ended March 9 with Dimora's conviction on 33 of 34 counts, including bribery, conspiracy and racketeering, as "Dimora I."

Lioi also had both federal prosecutors and Dimora's attorneys weigh-in on the evidence that she intended to release. She took their objections under consideration before deciding what could be released now.

Dimora trial: Feds post list of exhibits they will release

Dimora objects to most exhibits court can release

Dimora's attorneys said releasing some of the evidence, like pictures at the Bare Pool during a 2008 trip and photos of his Independence home's interior and exterior would "contaminate the jury pool."

None of the evidence has been seen as cameras are not allowed in federal court. Only courtroom sketch artists could draw pictures of the principals in the trial.

Lioi has allowed the release of 157 pieces of evidence. including photos of Dimora's elaborate backyard amenities, ,asst built through contractor bribes.

Images of evidence confiscated during FBI raids in 2008 are expected to be released.

Photos from his Las Vegas trip in 2008 show Dimora and his associates at the Mirage Hotel's exclusive Bare Pool, where women go topless.

Dimora's attorneys have fought the release of this evidence, citing that the "salacious nature of these photographs will be exploited by the media." The court disagreed, saying that the images are not salacious.

The U.S. Attorney's office had introduced hundreds and hundreds of pieces of evidence in the form of FBI wiretapped phone calls, FBI surveillance photos, photos from other surveillance cameras, contracts, financial documents and charts and graphs that laid out their case.

The more than 130 phone calls played from the 44,000 the FBI recorded phone calls are liberally laced with vulgar and profane language.

There were also hundreds of financial documents and contracts, photos and videos from the now-infamous 2008 Las Vegas trip and charts and graphs of the alleged corrupt schemes.

Stay with Channel 3 News and WKYC.com for the latest on the evidence as it's released.


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