Federal Judge Sara Lioi has postponed Jimmy Dimora’s corruption trial for up to three weeks while an appeals court considers legal issues raised by his lawyers.
A jury was seated on Friday. Testimony in the trial was scheduled to begin on Wednesday at U.S. District Court in Akron, but Judge Lioi announced Monday that she would push the start date to January 27 to allow time for Dimora’s appeals to be decided. If the appeals court has not addressed Dimora’s motion to delay the trial by then, Judge Lioi said she will reconsider her decision to continue the trial.
Mr. Dimora’s lawyers argue that a second round of criminal charges filed in October involve similar charges to the original case and are the equivalent of double jeopardy.
Mr. Dimora asked for a delay of his trial Monday while the Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Cincinnati decides if double jeopardy laws apply.
Federal prosecutors were expected to file a response opposing the appeal today.
In their appeal, defense attorneys argue that Mr. Dimora will suffer “irreparable harm” if he stands trial twice for the same conspiracy allegations over the same period. They argue that Mr. Dimora would be prevented from testifying at the first trial for fear that federal prosecutors would use that evidence against him in the second trial.
Mr. Dimora and ex-County Auditor Frank Russo were the primary targets of a four-year FBI investigation into public corruption in the county. Federal prosecutors charged or convicted nearly sixty elected officials, public employees, and contractors in what has become one of the country’s largest corruption investigations of local government.
The original indictment accuses Mr. Dimora of receiving bribes and kickbacks, trips, home improvements and appliances, meals, entertainment, jewelry, lodging and prostitutes in exchange for government contracts, grants and loans, jobs and pay raises. He’s also accused of fixing court cases and favoring his beneficiaries in county dealings.
Mr. Dimora will stand trial with co-defendant Michael Gabor of Parma, a former office assistant in the auditor’s office. He is accused of bribery and conspiracy.
A second round of charges, filed in October, accuse Mr. Dimora of establishing a criminal relationship with Michael Forlani, former owner of Doan Pyramid Electric.
If Dimora is convicted of racketeering in the first trial, federal prosecutors have said that they would consider asking Judge Lioi to dismiss the charges in the second indictment.