July 1, 2016

Partly cloudy

After delay, Jimmy Dimora to be sentenced today

AKRON — The hearing to determine the sentence for a former county commissioner convicted in a federal public corruption case will continue today.

Prosecutors have asked for more than 22 years behind bars for ex-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, who was convicted of racketeering, bribery and other counts. Attorneys for the 57-year-old Dimora, a former Democratic Party chairman in Cleveland, have asked for leniency because of his poor health and similar corruption cases that brought sentences of just a few years.

Jimmy Dimora

Dimora’s sentencing hearing began Monday and lasted all day. Federal Judge Sara Lioi allowed the defense to call four witnesses who could not reschedule their testimony until today.

The first witness Monday was Phillip Saunders, city council president in suburban Bedford Heights, who said he had known Dimora since 1973, and that Dimora helped improve race relations in the city.

Saunders said Dimora was one of the first politicians to hire minorities in the city despite racial tensions in the Cleveland suburb, the Plain Dealer reported. He also spoke about how Dimora helped build playgrounds and set up senior programs in the neighborhood, the newspaper reported.

Other witnesses testifying on Dimora’s behalf included neighbors and his daughter, Lisa.

Dimora’s trial capped an investigation that led to more than 50 convictions involving county officials, employees and contractors who traded bribes for government jobs and contracts.

The investigation helped fuel a referendum that replaced the three-commissioner county government in Cleveland with a county executive and elected council.