Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'When are they going after Tiger Woods?' asks Dimora after sex-for-favors charges

After Jimmy Dimora pleaded not guilty to 26 corruption charges today, reporters followed him on a trip up and down the federal courthouse elevators, guided by his booming yet plaintive voice.

“American citizens -- under this Patriot Act, they have the right to wiretap you, you, you!” he shouted to reporters, complaining that agents listened to his, his family’s, and his friends’ phone calls.

Some of those phone tapes are apparently included in today’s explosive accusations that Dimora traded sex for official favors. One bribery charge claims he slept with an unidentified woman while pulling strings to get her a government job. Prosecutors say former engineer’s employee Kevin Payne “paid prostitutes to entertain and provide services to Dimora” in an effort to keep the county engineer’s office at Stonebridge on the Superior Viaduct. That’s on top of new purported details about Dimora’s alleged encounter with a Vegas prostitute (he says he just got a massage).

On his way to post bond, Dimora compared himself to two famous sex-scandal figures.

“When are they going after [Eliot] Spitzer? When are they going after Tiger Woods?” Once prosecutors “go after” them, Dimora told reporters, they could come see him. (Actually, it was the feds who outed Spitzer as a call-girl client.)

Beyond that, Dimora defended himself as he has for more than a year. He says the county hasn’t been harmed, that he lacks the power to steer a contract, that others signed off on all the decisions he’s accused of improperly influencing.

“As a commissioner, I have one vote,” he said, exiting the elevator onto the first floor. “I can’t buy a paper clip” without another commissioner. “All our audits have been clean. All low bids have been awarded.” He claimed he’s always supported county’s staff recommendations when he votes. “My colleagues have said over and over, I never approached them on contract awards.”

Dimora's taking a one-week leave of absence from the county commission -- but he plans to return.

"I have done nothing wrong,” Dimora told reporters. “I’m not planning on resigning. I’ve got three months to go. I want to finish my term.”

As Dimora went into an office to arrange his bond, a reporter asked if he’d give a press conference on camera outside the courthouse.

He shrugged and said he would. “I don’t have nothing to hide,” he said.

Update, 4 p.m.: Eliot Spitzer references also come up in the Dimora indictment, it turns out.

On March 13, 2008, the day after Spitzer resigned as governor of New York due to a prostitution scandal, Dimora allegedly talked on the phone with Robert Rybak, business manager of the plumber's union Local 55. Rybak and Dimora allegedly discussed whether Rybak would provide someone for Dimora to have sex with:

Rybak replied that he did not want Dimora to "go down like Governor Spitzer."

Dimora told Rybak, "I ain't gonna pay for no p--sy. That's why he went down."

Rybak replied, "Yeah, you'll let Gabor, Kelley and me pay it for you," and then laughed.

Five days later, they allegedly talked again:

Rybak told Dimora, "Remember, Spitzer, if I go down, you're going with me."

Dimora replied, "We are all going down together, baby."

Rybak responded, "Thank you, Spitzer."

Sure enough, Rybak was indicted with Dimora today.

To read my Oct. 2009 profile of Jimmy Dimora, "Life of the Party," click here.

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