Judge denies pre-sentencing release for Michael Gabor

1:47 PM, Jun 21, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- Siding with federal prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi has denied pre-sentencing release for former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora's county corruption co-defendant Michael D. Gabor.

Lioi released the ruling just after 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Gabor is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, the same day as Dimora.

After a 37-day trial, Gabor, 52, of Parma, was found guilty March 9 on 7 of 8 federal counts, including conspiracy, bribery and racketeering.

Like Dimora, he was immediately taken into federal custody and has remained at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown since March 9.

Gabor was found guilty on multiple charges, including RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit bribery, aiding and abetting bribery, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

After the guilty verdicts, asking that Gabor be allowed to remain out on bond, Gabor's attorney Leif Christman emphasized Gabor's "close familial and community ties, and noting particularly that 'Mr. Gabor has lived in the same house with his mother and his wife and his son for 52 years, your honor. They're in Parma. He isn't going anywhere.'"

Despite that, the court remanded Gabor into federal custody.

In today's ruling, Lioi wrote "Gabor claims that his "lifelong ties to Cuyahoga County" and his close relationship with members of his immediate family support a conclusion that he is unlikely to flee. The Court disagrees. The evidence at trial established that Gabor used his contacts and "lifelong ties" to the community to further the conspiracies of which he was convicted, including the rigging of a county election, the attempted fixing of his civil action in domestic relations court, and the cover-up of certain federal crimes committed by him and his co-conspirators."

Lioi continued "As was the case with co-defendant Dimora, extensive trial testimony demonstrated that Gabor committed his crimes with people whom he considered to be close, long-standing friends. The court finds that his "lifelong ties" to the community, therefore, do not support the conclusion that he would be unlikely to flee. As for Gabor's close family ties, these connections did not prevent him from committing the crimes for which he was convicted."

Lioi added that "...concern for supportive family did not prevent the defendant from committing the charged offenses and were not sufficient to support a finding that the defendant was not likely to flee, nor did his devotion and concern for his family prevent him from engaging in such deceitful conduct as cheating on his wife, of which there was evidence offered at trial."

"In light of this evidence, the court cannot conclude that his family ties would serve as any barrier to an attempt to flee. The crimes for which Gabor was convicted involved fraudulent, dishonest, and obstructive conduct, which included falsifying evidence to thwart the FBI's investigation and destroying evidence implicating him and others in the RICO conspiracy. Evidence at trial established that this conduct did not involve a momentary lapse in judgment, but represented repeated, concerted acts over a number of years."

"The court believes that defendant Gabor would employ these same skills of deceit and evasion to elude capture. As was the case with his co-defendant, this level of dishonesty and deception, and the disdain Gabor has previously shown for the justice system, leaves the court skeptical that he would abide by the terms and conditions of release."

"At the age of 52, he now faces a drastic change in lifestyle in the form of a lengthy prison sentence, providing him with a strong incentive to flee. As to the incentive to flee, based on his age and exposure to a lengthy imprisonment, we consider that such an incentive naturally bears upon and increases the risk of flight."

Gabor faces about 20 years in prison.

Lioi concluded, "Taking into consideration all of the relevant factors, and accepting at face value Gabor's asserted ties to the community, close family relations, and compliance with pre-trial bond conditions, the court finds that Gabor cannot satisfy the burden of demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that he is not a flight risk. Therefore, defendant Gabor's motion for release pending sentencing is denied."

In his closing argument in the trial, Christman told the jury that Gabor "fell into a vat of raw sewage that was Cuyahoga County government." He said Gabor "had the misfortune of working for a very, very big criminal, which was Frank Russo."

Christman acknowledged that Gabor made some mistakes with Dimora. "Yeah, he helped him cheat on his wife, not cool. These are things that are dirty," Christman said. But Christman said Gabor's conduct did not amount to criminal activity.

There's a lot of mud flying around the room," Christman admitted, of the oftentimes vulgar testimony in the two-month trial, "and we need a shower from all the sewage."

But, he said, witnesses against Gabor were unreliable. "They wrap their witnesses in the American flag and they swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," Christman said. "But it's throw Michael under the bus."


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