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Dimora attorneys ask for 'less than 22 years' in prison

6:28 PM, Jul 24, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- His attorneys say Jimmy Dimora should be sentenced to far less than the 22-plus years federal prosecutors want.

In a memorandum filed with U.S. District Court just before 9 p.m. Monday, attorneys Bill and Andrea Whitaker filed 55 pages of recommendations; 207 pages of ethics reports; seven pages listing public officials across the country whose crimes were more egregious, according to the Whitakers, but received lesser sentences; and 48 letters from friends, relatives, neighbors and political acquaintances that ask that U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi to consider all the good that Dimora had done in his life.

Read excerpts from the 48 letters

Bill Whitaker said that Dimora, who was convicted on March 9, did not actively go out and solicit bribes, unlike former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo. Russo pleaded guilty to 21 counts and was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison.

Prosecutors tapped Russo and Dimora as the top 2 targets of the Cuyahoga County corruption probe that went public on July 28, 2008. Dimora is to be sentenced at 9:30 a.m. Monday, four years and two days after the probe went public.

After he pleaded guilty through a plea agreement, Russo was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in prison. Russo was also sentenced to 3 years of supervised release set to begin upon his release from prison.

Restitution was set by the court at an amount of $6,970,905 to be paid by Russo.

The Whitakers said that "...Dimora was not convicted of any charges that relate to the buying or selling of jobs as Russo was. Additionally, there were no allegations that Dimora devised large schemes that created millions of dollars in personal gain and caused Cuyahoga County to endure millions of dollars in actual loss."

They added "Russo's sentence should be seen as a ceiling under which Dimora's sentence should fall far short."

Whitaker said that Dimora, now 57, has significant health issues that should impact the sentencing.

His attorneys point to his "multiple and compounding health problems that present unusual and extraordinary circumstances. Dimora suffers from multiple health problems," which warrant a lowered sentence.

They say Dimora suffers from chronic back pain due to a degenerative disc disease and this affliction causes Dimora continuous pain.

In addition, Dimora suffers from a deterioration of the meniscus in his right knee which results in continuous pain while standing or walking and, according to his attorneys, will ultimately require surgery at some point.

Dimora also suffers from hypertension which requires daily medication as well as phlebitis. Phlebitis causes painful, swollen ankles and requires the use of compression garments on the lower legs.

Since he was taken into federal custody on March 9, he suffered a fall on May 4 at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown.

As a result of the fall, Dimora suffered a loss of consciousness, a concussion and other muscular-related injuries which have hampered Dimora's ability to walk.

While at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, doctors also found a mass in the back of Dimora's throat.

As a result of the May 4 fall, Dimora's previous medical conditions have been aggravated which has resulted in his use of a walker and, more recently, the use of a wheelchair.

Whitaker wrote "...Dimora leaves a legacy of years of exemplary public service; he is 57 years old, in poor health; is neither a threat to the community nor poses any recidivism threat; and he has been devoted to his family, his neighbors, friends and his constituents."

"Many of the letters urge this Court to take into consideration the many years of good and helpful conduct and the Court is encouraged to do so."

The 48 letters presented to the court on Dimora's behalf came from, among other people, his wife, his three children, his mother-in-law, Bedford Mayor Dan Pocek, his neighbors and others.

No matter how long his sentence is, there are some things he won't have to worry about.

Dimora's lawyers cut a deal with federal prosecutors in mid-March that has him forfeiting half of his share of the $438,000 house in Independence, his commissioner's pension valued at $122,383, and a $3,600 Ohio State football jersey that Reliance Mechanical contractor Bill Neiheiser bought for him.

And Dimora won't have to sell the family's home in Independence untl all appeals are exhausted. And even then, if he loses all his appeals, Lori Dimora will have six months to move out but will be allowed to keep half of the sale price.

She also will not be required to forfeit a $12,000 savings account.

But Dimora will not have to forfeit pension benefits accrued from his years as Bedford Heights mayor, nor his deferred compensation retirement account, according to the published terms of the settlement agreement.

WKYC-TV

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