UPDATED with new Dimora charges below.
For decades, ever since the Kon-Tiki in the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel closed, Cleveland has suffered from a sad shortage of tiki culture, a dearth of Polynesian retro-kitsch. The Modern World couldn't make a go of it. The Bamboo House in Bay Village closed. So who'd have thought the South-Pacific-on-the-Cuyahoga revival would depend on Jimmy Dimora?
Yep, Dimora's backyard pool-party deck, allegedly built up with bribes, sounds sweeter with every new federal charge. Now the feds say Dimora got $1,076 for a fake palm tree and used it on a tiki hut instead.
I can't possibly improve on thatgirl's riffs on the news over at Cleveland Love. So I'll take this moment to total up the free-or-discounted swag allegedly built into Dimora's private paradise:
• Patio roof, barbecue shelter, bathhouse, value $60,000, from contractor Steve Pumper
• Brick walls for outdoor kitchen, masonry columns, pool retaining wall, value $25,000-$28,000, from construction contractor Nicholas Zavarella
• Granite in outdoor kitchen, from John Valentin of Salva Stone Design, portion of $3,000
• Refrigerator in pool area, value $1,150, from Ferris Kleem
• Tiki hut, value $1,076, from money manager Charles Randazzo
The luau king must've been a great party host. But when the Big D inevitably sells his little piece of tropicana in Independence to pay for his defense, who's the tiki-partying high-roller who'll snatch it up?
Update, 2:30 p.m.: What a coincidence -- the feds unsealed a superceding indictment of Dimora today with new charges and new news about Jimmy's backyard patio. Today we learn that the FBI thinks Dimora got the pool itself as a bribe!
A new defendant, Anthony Melagrano of Vandra Brothers construction company, is accused of:
• providing and installing concrete for Dimora's pool
• installing a basketball court and a concrete pad for an outdoor bathroom
• installing footers for the outdoor kitchen area.
In exchange, Dimora is accused of voting for Vandra Brothers to get county contracts. Dimora allegedly asked Melagrano for an invoice for the footers in May 2008 after Steve Pumper tipped him off to the FBI investigation.
Dimora faces a new RICO charge -- racketeering conspiracy. Prosecutors say he, former Frank Russo employee Michael Gabor, and others formed a criminal racket that committed bribery, extortion, mail fraud, and obstruction of justice. The new indictment includes a racketeering forfeiture claim. The feds now want Dimora to forfeit the entire cost of the free or discounted improvements to his house. I guess the pool party's over.
Oh, and to add insult to injury, the feds also want Dimora's autographed Beanie Wells jersey.
(Photo of the Kon-Tiki from clevelandmemory.org)