A federal judge has sentenced former Cuyahoga County commissioner Jimmy Dimora to 28 years in prison for his role in the sweeping corruption scandal. Ideastream's Michelle Kanu reports that's a longer sentence than the prosecution initially wanted.
U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi told the court that Jimmy Dimora used his power for his own benefit and his actions undermined the public's trust of elected officials. She said anything less than a 28 year sentence would minimize the serious nature of Dimora's conduct.
The prosecution initially wanted a 22 year term. But Lioi ruled that the 32 charges of racketeering, bribery, conspiracy to commit fraud and falsified tax records that Dimora was convicted of warrant a greater sentence. Dimora must also pay over $98,000 in restitution to Cuyahoga County.
Dimora's defense team made several attempts lighten his sentence. They argued that at age 57, Dimora is in poor health, lacks a criminal past, and is far less guilty of stealing taxpayer dollars than other officials involved in the scandal. They also read several letters from community members that attested to Dimora's moral character and role as a family man. The judge rejected those claims.
For the first time since his trial began, Dimora spoke in court and emphasized, "I have no regret or any type of reservation for anything I did." Dimora said his job as a public official was to help his constituents and that he never performed any official act for anyone who gave him anything in return.
Through much of the sentencing Dimora was stoic, but was seen dabbing his eyes, wiping his nose, and biting his lower lip as he urged the judge not to separate him from his family.
After the hearing, defense attorney Bill Whitaker addressed reporters and said Dimora plans to appeal.
Whitaker: "I can tell you he's very disappointed. And as someone mentioned earlier, it definitely is a life sentence for Mr. Dimora, no question about it. 28 years is the largest sentence I've ever seen for activity of this nature, regardless of whether it's accurate or not."
Federal officials who have been involved in the investigation since 2007 say they are pleased with the ruling. Stephen Anthony is a special agent with the FBI.
Anthony: "The investigation has resulted in many positive changes in the way that Cuyahoga County does business. But sustaining change and keeping this momentum will be up to our leaders and quite frankly to all of us standing here today."
The sentence concludes a tumultuous chapter in Cuyahoga County history. Moving forward, Anthony Cuyahoga County employees now have an avenue to report complaints and concerns in the new county government structure and a newly created inspector general office will investigate and refer those claims to an FBI agent when necessary.