AKRON -- Prosecution witness Steve Pumper testified that when he was detained by the FBI on May 23, 2008, "It was panic city." The former construction executive also told the jury, "Everyone was scrambling."
Pumper talked about the fateful day when years of corruption began to crumble. He was the first person detained in what eventually became a county-wide investigation that netted some 60 arrests and more than 50 guilty pleas and convictions.
Pumper, the former CEO of D-A-S Construction, admitted he had just passed a bribe to Cleveland building inspector Bobby Cuevas on May 23, 2008, when two FBI agents asked him to get into their car.
"We seen the transaction," Pumper said the FBI agents told him, "and it was bribe." Pumper told the jury about his response to the federal agents.
"I told them, no, it was just a loan and they said it was a bribe and we know it, and we want to bring you on our side to work with us," is how Pumper described the conversation in the FBI agents' car.
"I thought there was no frickin' way I'm working with these guys," Pumper testified. "I'm not going to wear a wire. I'm not going to videotape. There's no fricking way I'm going to do that to my friends."
The FBI agents began asking Pumper about Jimmy Dimora, Frank Russo, and others. Pumper told them he "didn't have any information about that."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon asked Pumper why he lied to the FBI at that point, to which Pumper answered, "I thought I'd be able to skate out of that. Between the commissioner and Mr. Russo and their connections with a lot of judges and public officials, we'd be able to slide this under the table and get rid of this."
Pumper eventually pleaded guilty to nine federal charges, including bribery, and agreed to testify against Dimora.
Depending in part on the effectiveness of Pumper's testimony, his prison sentence could be reduced from 10 to 15 years, down to 6 to 10 years.