Monday, May 23, 2011

Wiretap deluge: Dimora trial moved to Jan. 4, thanks to 44,000 phone calls

Jimmy Dimora got what he wanted today: His corruption trial's been postponed from September to January 4, 2012.

I don't think Judge Sara Lioi wanted to give the Big D four more months, but she had to concede this is one huge case. The prosecutors have turned over 44,000 phone calls to the defense, totaling 1,589 hours, from 10 different wiretaps (Dimora's phone, Russo's, Steve Pumper's, J. Kevin Kelley's...). The FBI says 8,168 of the calls are "pertinent" to the case. They gave the defense 352 gigs of digitized documents -- more than a million computer files in all.

Faced with that ginormous workload for the defense, and the new racketeering indictment from March, and some appeals court decisions about similar cases, Lioi gave Dimora's lawyers (and co-defendant Michael Gabor's) four more months to get ready.

To the frustrated citizen who's sick of this corruption case dragging on, who can't stand the thought of Jimmy watching the leaves turn amber and gold from a perch on his infamous party deck, the judge offers this promise:

... keeping in mind the public’s interest in a resolution of this case, absent extraordinary unforeseen circumstances, there will be no further continuances.
Four more months to sift through those wiretaps is surely good news for Dimora and his lawyers, Bill and Andrea Whitaker. But they must know that the long-term forecast is gloomy.

In a case like this, where the defense will argue that the defendant's actions all fall into a gray area -- gifts here, favors there, but no tit-for-tat deals, no smoking gun -- a defendant's own words are the prosecution's most effective weapon. Prosecutors rely on wiretaps to cut through the ambiguity and frame their case. The Whitakers surely know this, since they defended Nate Gray at his 2005 trial, and had to ask the jury not to dwell on lines about greased palms and treating politicians like prostitutes.

So which Dimora quotes will be the prosecutors' money lines, the recordings they'll play at trial and quote in closing argument? I laid my bet in "Life of the Party," my November 2009 Dimora profile. I'm going with this chestnut, which Dimora allegedly uttered on March 31, 2008:

I’m trying to make calls, make a living, help my friends make more money than they already got.

1 comment:

BuckeyeHoppy said...

If the jury in this case has to deliberate for longer than an hour, then they wouldn't be paying attention. These wire taps should make the case a slam dunk for the prosecution.