AKRON, Ohio – Jimmy Dimora and a local contractor knew each other for years and were friends long before Dimora’s rise to political power, argued Dimora’s defense team Thursday afternoon in federal court.
The contractor, Ferris Kleem, was questioned several times on re-cross examination by defense counsel Andrea Whitaker about the length of the friendship. Kleem implied it was not that long of a time period.
Then Dimora’s defense counsel, Andrea Whitaker read part of the plea agreement between Kleem and the FBI.
Kleem was quoted as saying that after Dimora became a Cuyahoga County commissioner, “their friendship grew.”
Pressed by Whitaker for clarification, Kleem testified, “I believe I met him one time before he became commissioner.”
The defense is trying to show that Kleem and Dimora were friends for years, and gifts given to Dimora by the businessman were because of that friendship.
The government says Dimora used Kleem’s gifts, including a Rolex watch, refrigerator and a Las Vegas gambling trip, for his personal gain. In exchange, the government says Dimora put Kleem in a favorable position for official county business.
After re-cross and re-direct examinations, Kleem left court, and had no comment on the case.
By mid-Thursday afternoon, the government called its second witness – Joanne Wolf. She is Kleem’s assistant and a bookkeeper at one of Kleem’s businesses, Blaze Construction.
The prosecution began introducing documents showing Blaze’s banking account activity.
Wolf is the second witness of many more yet to be called.
The trial is expected to last another 11 weeks.
Dimora and Gabor say they are not guilty of all charges.