Lawsuit: Dimora still owes $80k to first attorneys

1:55 PM, Aug 3, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Convicted Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and his family are trying to raise money to pay for a new attorney for his sentencing and conviction appeals.

But his first attorneys, Richard Lillie and Gretchen Holderman, are still suing him in common pleas court for their unpaid $79,325 legal bill.

The two sued him in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court for that amount on May 3, 2011, and the lawsuit is being heard by Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge Pamela Barker.

Lillie is shown in the photos next to Dimora outside federal court in Cleveland on Sept. 15, 2010, the day Dimora was taken at daybreak from his Independence home and arrested.

Lillie, on crutches then, had been in the hospital and got himself discharged to come to the federal courthouse that day.

Attorney Robert Weltman is representing Lillie and Holderman and, on July 6, 2011, Dimora hired Broadview Heights attorney David S. Anthony to represent him.

Calls to Weltman and Anthony for comment had not been returned by the online posting of this article.

Channel 3 intended to ask Weltman how his clients felt about Dimora raising money to pay for a new attorney when he still has an outstanding bill with Lillie and Holderman.

Channel 3 intended to ask Anthony how a deposition of Dimora will be accomplished with Dimora in federal prison in Youngstown or elsewhere.

Ironically, on Tuesday July 31, 2012, the very day Dimora, now 57, was sentenced in Akron to 28 years in federal prison, there was a pretrial held in the Lillie-Holderman payment lawsuit against him in Cleveland.

Lillie and Holderman represented Dimora from Jan. 14, 2008, until December 12, 2010, according to court records.

Dimora lost his commissioner job and its $92,000 salary on December 31, 2010.

The lawsuit states the two attorneys provided Dimora with just over 413 hours of legal services at $250 an hour from Jan. 14, 2008, to Jan. 12, 2011.

The bill came to $103,325 and Dimora paid $24,000 of it, the lawsuit states.

In January 2012, Lillie was seen watching Dimora's trial in federal court in Akron from the public viewing room in the basement of the federal courthouse.

At the time, Lillie 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 in January 2011.

Legal experts asked said his trial defense was likely going to cost between $300,000 and $500,000. On Wednesday, Bill Whitaker declined to say how much Dimora had paid him but did say "there is no money left."

The Whitakers never represented Dimora in that civil case.

In another twist of irony, 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 last summer in his own county corruption case and resigned from the bench, which is why Barker, appointed to replace Terry by Gov. John Kasich, is handlign it now.

(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.)


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