CINCINNATI (AP) — A former county official's conviction and 28-year sentence in a wide-ranging public corruption case were upheld Wednesday by a federal appeals court.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati affirmed former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora's 2012 conviction and sentence on 32 bribery-related offenses.
Dimora had asked the court to drop four charges and grant a new trial on the remaining ones. His attorney argued the trial judge should have allowed jurors to see ethics reports the attorney said would have proven the items that Dimora received were gifts and not bribes.
Prosecutors had argued the reports were incomplete and described only relationships with people who were bribing Dimora, not details or dollar figures.
The three-judge appeals panel found the trial judge erred in ruling that the reports were inadmissible hearsay, but it said any error was harmless because "the government produced overwhelming evidence against Dimora."
The panel ruled that the ethics reports would have done little to tip the scales against that evidence and their admission would have hurt Dimora by "opening the door to other evidence that would have done him no favors."
Dimora's attorney, Christian Grostic, didn't immediately return calls for comment Wednesday.
The investigation that led to the 37-day trial of the former Democratic Party chairman in Cleveland resulted in more than 50 convictions involving county officials, employees and contractors who prosecutors say traded bribes for government jobs and contracts.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Antoinette Bacon and Ann Rowland said in an emailed statement Wednesday that the appeals court ruling confirmed that Dimora received a fair trial and that the jury's verdict was supported by overwhelming evidence of greed and corruption.
Wednesday's ruling noted that the FBI investigation into public corruption in Cuyahoga County that began in 2007 showed Dimora handed out public jobs, influenced Cleveland decision-makers and steered public contracts in return for approximately 100 bribes worth more than $250,000.
The government had said Dimora took bribes for nearly a decade, including a Las Vegas trip that involved a woman who was paid $1,000 to give him a massage in his hotel room. Other bribes included home renovations, high-end restaurant meals, limousine service and use of a condominium, the indictment said.
Dimora angrily denied wrongdoing and had invited FBI agents to come after him before he was indicted.
A tearful Dimora said at his July 2012 sentencing hearing that everything he did was for the good of the county's taxpayers.