Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More corruption charges implicate Dimora

More bad news for Jimmy Dimora: Steve Pumper, former official for the companies D-A-S Construction and Green-Source Products, is charged with conspiring to bribe Dimora and conspiring to obstruct justice.

The filing alleges that Dimora accepted cash, gifts, and construction work totaling almost $100,000 from Pumper in exchange for using his influence as county commissioner to do at least eight separate favors for him, including help obtaining more than $3 million in county loans.

As with last month's charges against Kevin Kelley and others, the charging document does not name Dimora, but it describes a "Public Official #1" whose description matches him. For instance, the feds charge that Pumper built a roof over a patio at PO1's house in 2004 or 2005 and a barbecue shelter for him in 2007. That matches the times when Dimora and his wife took out permits with the Independence building department declaring that they, as the homeowners, were building a patio roof and a barbecue shelter.

WKYC TV 3's website has posted a statement from Pumper, released through his attorney. "I accept full responsibility for my actions," Pumper is quoted as saying. D-A-S' statement says the company itself is not a target of the investigation.

The charges claim that Pumper gave Dimora about $33,000 in cash between early 2007 and May 2008, and paid "on numerous occasions" for "entertainment, dinners and drinks for PO1 and his friends and family," including 12 Cavaliers tickets worth a total of $3,180. The feds also say Pumper did about $61,000 of work on Dimora's home without billing Dimora or getting paid from 2001 to 2007. "From time to time, PO1 asked for invoices; however, PUMPER did not expect PO1 would pay full value for the work," the charges say.

Pumper is also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice. On May 23, 2008, the filing says, Pumper gave $2,000 in cash to Cleveland building inspector Bobby Cuevas. That day, FBI agents interviewed Pumper about the cash he gave Cuevas and also asked him to cooperate in a public corruption investigation. (This is the link between the city and county corruption investigations that the Plain Dealer has been hinting at for almost a year.)

The filing says:

On or about May 23, 2008, and only after PO1 became aware of the investigation, PO1 made the first in a series of small payments for the work DAS performed in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007, to make it appear that PO1 did not intend at the time the work was done to be influenced and rewarded in his official position by PUMPER.

It was a further part of the conspiracy that POI and PUMPER planned to explain the fact that PO1 had not paid for any of the work DAS had performed on his residence by falsely claiming that DAS had not yet completed the work.

Allegedly, Dimora paid DAS $600 on May 23, $723.30 on June 30, and $4,000 on October 22. The last payment came after the July raid on Dimora's office.

Here's a nice detail about Pumper's alleged cover-up: the day after the FBI confronted him, Pumper is said to have thrown his home computer's hard drive into Lake Erie!

The charges allege that, in exchange for the cash, meals, entertainment, and work on his home, Dimora helped Pumper and DAS in several ways. Here are some of them:

-Dimora allegedly agreed to assist Pumper in getting a $24,000 contract for DAS at the Courthouse Square project in 2004.

-The filing says Dimora "used his influence to assist PUMPER in obtaining a County loan and an extension on the loan" for the DAS project at the Parkview-Allerton Apartments on E. 13th St. "Although the County granted the extension in March 2008, the extension was not used because other funding was obtained." The document later says DAS got two loans of up to $1 million each.

-Dimora is said to have supported Green-Source's applications for $1 million in county loans for its building on Ivanhoe in Collinwood in 2008.

-Dimora, the feds say, talked about getting Green-Source public contracts and getting an unnamed public employee, "PE4," hired by Green-Source as a consultant. (Another Green-Source executive vetoed hiring PE4.) Allegedly, he and Pumper talked about Dimora possibly becoming a Green-Source consultant after he left office.

-Dimora set up meetings between Green-Source and county officials at Delmonico's Restaurant in Independence so that Green-Source could try to obtain work on the county's juvenile justice center project, according to the filing:

On or about March 31, 2008, PO1 had a conversation with PUMPER in which PUMPER asked PO1 what he was doing. PO1 replied in a jocular manner, "Oh what the f-k, I'm doin' nothing, I'm trying to make calls, make a living, help my friends make more money than they already got." Later in the conversation, PO1 told PUMPER that POI was trying to arrange a meeting for the next day at Delmonico's Restaurant with the architectural and design services contractor ("the architect") for the JJC.

On or about April 1, 2008, PUMPER, PO1 and the architect met and POI promoted Green-Source to the architect. ... The architect told PUMPER that the architect would work with the Green-Source design team in an effort to use Green-Source products for the JJC.

The charges are contained in an "information," not a grand jury indictment, usually a sign that the defendant has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with the investigation.

I've put in a call to Dimora's attorney, Richard Lillie.

Here is the U.S. Attorney's press release. You can read the entire charging document as a pdf by clicking here.

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