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Dimora trial: Defense goes after Kelley's mental state

9:48 PM, Feb 2, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon wrapped up her initial questioning of key prosecution witness J. Kevin Kelley by mid-afternoon Thursday.

Kelley was on the stand in the public corruption trial of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and co-defendant Michael Gabor.

Bacon asked Kelley what Dimora said to him after the initial FBI raid on July 28, 2008. Kelley said that Dimora told him to be careful what you say on the phone.

Bacon pointed out that Dimora was not only a county commissioner but also the chairman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.

She asked Kelley " which role did you give him the money?" She was referring to alleged bribes and kickbacks Dimora received.

"In his role as Cuyahoga County commissoner," Kelley responded.

Dimora could receive monetary and in-kind contributions for his political campaign but not as an elected official. Prosecutors are out to prove that Dimora accepted bribes and kickbacks for allegedly steering county contracts as an elected official.

"Have you spoken to anyone since you pleaded guilty?" Bacon asked, referring to Dimora, former Auditor Frank Russo, county employee Michael Gabor and others who comprised the usual "party" group that had been drinking and dining buddies for years.

"No," Kelley replied simply.

Then it was the defense's turn to question Kelley.

Attorney Andrea Whitaker, one of Dimora's defense attorneys, pulled no punches as she questioned Kelley's alcoholism, ailments and his assets later Thursday afternoon.

"You started taking bribes because of all the money you were spending on Mr. 2007-2008, you bought a new boat and bought two new had two homes and one was being had five mortgages on that home at the time, didn't you?" Whitaker asked.

Kelley replied "yes" to all her questions.

Then she asked about Kelley's application for disability payments.

"The disability, it is based on some mental issues, correct?" Whitaker said.

"Yes, that is correct," Kelley replied. Kelley is receiving disability payments from Social Security and from his county pension as a former county employee, Whitaker said. 

Whitaker questioned Kelley about his mental state when he started cooperating with the FBI, beginning July 29, 2008, the day after the initial raid.

She said the doctor's report said Kelley was "...bipolar and an alcoholic at the time, drinking up to a fifth of rum a would hear voices and they would tell you what to do, correct?"

He agreed.

He admitted taking Klonopin for anxiety and insomnia, Lamictal for his bipolar disorder, something to help him to sleep, Prozac for his anxiety and depression and something for his obsessive compulsive disorder but "I am not on any of those at this time," he said, meaning he had not taken those medications yet that day.

Under further questioning, Kelley admitted that his wife thought his anxiety and paranoia were excessive.

Kelley testified that he met with FBI and government officials "a couple hundred times" since the initial raid.

Kelley confirmed that he was the first person to be charged in the overall corruption probe and the first to plead guilty.

"You were the first of the group to testify against your friends, correct?" Whitaker asked.

Kelley agreed.

Court adjourned just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday and was scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning.


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