FBI Investigation Rocks Cuyahoga County Government

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Mon, 07/28/2008 - 17:37.

Cuyahoga County Commisionar Dimora

County Commisioner Jimmy Dimora   (photo: www.coolcleveland.com)



NEO citizens and the REALNEO community in particular, have been absolutely candid in their disappointment on the views and policies dictated from the County Commisioner Level, and Jimmy DiMora may be due for some karmic retribution.  FBI agents today raided the homes of multiple county facilities and the residents of key county personnel, including that of Jimmy D, and all media wires have been off the wall, not surprisingly, since.  The offices and homes of both DiMora and County Auditor James Russo were included in these FBI raids.  From Newsday to the Akron Beacon Journal to the latest local TV news reports, the region is witnessing history in the making - and according to the FBI themselves, the culmination of a years-long corruption stakeout.  

NEO citizens paying close enough attention probably recall the media news break revealing FBI investigations pointing to county recorder Pat O'Malley and inquiries made related to child porn and other dubious endeavors.  Jimmy Dimora, just this past May, gave bold statements regarding 'cutting the strings' and such - I wonder if a few of those strings shot back Jimmy's way, and what links that investigation might have to this one?

What can one say?  We've known and called out the poor leadership decisions made numerous times from the Commissioners' seat(s) - and I can only expect a bit of a domino effect, which will reveal some very interesting things from both the Federal and Press sides as the root of corruption is traced from source to satellites, and back again.  Could we look at the rooting out of city-level leadership as the investigation goes across municipality and jurisdiction? 

These are very interesting times, indeed - stay tuned for ongoing commentary!

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Doan Pyramid Electric? VA? Developer?

When I cruised through cleveland.com to see what was up after a friend alerted me (I have been in research all day) about the FBI descending like midges on the County today, I found this tidbit:

FBI hauls away more evidence in corruption probe by estarzyk [at] plaind [dot] com July 28, 2008 17:08PM

Categories: Breaking News, Crime, Cuyahoga County government, FBI raids Cuyahoga County (Note they made a new category - probably smart since this will be ongoing for long enough to use that phrase for a sort)

Then I clicked through to Doan Pyramid Electric to see why they might be involved in the investigation. I mean, what they wired a new fixture at Jimmy's house for free?

But here's what smells fishy there:

Remember when Norm reported on the destruction of the historic properties to expand the Veteran's Administration Hospital at University Circle? Well, guess who the developer in that deal is... you guessed it - DPE!!! Jay Miller of Crain's Cleveland Business covers it here - right on their website. Thanks for the handy link DPE!

Doan Pyramid Electric LLC, an electrical contractor, is growing into a developer. November 6, 2006.

Here's a choice quote from the story, "When Mr. Forlani laid out his plan before City Council last week, he said he hoped the city would agree to approve the tax increment financing. If it does, taxes on 100% of the increase in the assessed value of the property would be diverted to help cover construction costs.

That's a hefty tax break, more than the city would grant in a tax abatement, but Mr. Forlani argued that the financing structure of the deal and the nature of the project justify it.

'The market rents wouldn't support the project without some incentives to reduce the capital cost,' Mr. Forlani said after the City Council hearing. 'And if the VA had the money to do the project itself, it would pay no taxes.'

Under a tax increment financing arrangement, the county auditor would bill the project for its full tax payments. However, the bulk of the tax money collected would be diverted to pay off the port authority bonds rather than be sent to the city or to the Cleveland Municipal School District.

Mr. Forlani told City Council he is negotiating with the Cleveland schools to make payments in lieu of taxes and would give the school district a portion of the tax revenue. An analysis of the project by the city's Economic Development Department describes the entire VA expansion as bringing 1,200 jobs to the neighborhood, in large part by creating a hospital complex that employs 2,700 people. The analysis estimates the new jobs will bring in $1.6 million a year in city income taxes at current salary and tax levels, and it projects a total of nearly $80 million over 30 years."

Can’t find the follow up story about the PILOTS they have granted to the schools yet, can you?

Ah, it's the old "make 'em sick, make 'em well" close. In this case, the federal guvmint makes 'em sick (sends them off to senseless wars) and the taxpayers, make 'em well - OK maybe not well, but stable.

When I was down in Apalach I had an argument with a guy who was a McCain supporter. (Really he was a card carrying racist, but that's another story.) He said, "Why should I pay for someone else's health care?" Well, Mr., here's a good example of how you are paying and taxpayers in communities throughout this "great land" are paying right along with you, from the cost of the morphine  to the cost of the anti-depressants to the costs of the buildings in which to administer the drugs and therapies.

Well, you might have known that "hefty tax break" was covered here on realneo, too. The wheel of karma turns slowly sometimes. Sometimes it accelerates. Who's sweating tonight?

Doan Pyramid means corruption goes to Federal level

There are many local through Federal politicians and politicos who have backed this VA Doan Pyramid scheme... the foundations and UCI exist to plan the area Doan Pyramid is trashing... the PD has dedicated entire editions worth of copy to celebrating every step of the way leading to this mess, and celebrating every person leading development and planning of every square inch around University Circle. And, so, by promoting what turn out to be corrupt corporate interests, rather than investigating obvious conflicts of interests, the PD got scooped by the FBI, and REALNEO, on what is surely one of the biggest stories in Cuyahoga County history.

Did the FBI storm PD headquarters yet?

Disrupt IT

This will be a real test of the PD

Tomorrow's PD will be the first real test of the new publisher and editor, who probably don't realize how corrupt NEO and the local media really have become... they must now expose as crooks the people they have praised and championed, and they should dedicate considerable resources (which they do not have) to cover the story well.

We'll see, tomorrow...

Disrupt IT

PD took eyes off quiet crisis and let it get very loud

"Crisis in County Government" - the front page banner of today's Plain Dealer, and "Time for change has come to Cuyahoga County", the title of Phillip Morris' analysis of the FBI and IRS smackdown on Cuyahoga County government and construction businesses, sets the tone of the PD's pants down, limp dick approach to reporting on a government that so many people have seen for so long is corrupt, far beyond what is not public knowledge. The fact is County and regional government have been in crisis for a long time, it is far past time for change, and the PD has always been much of the problem blocking change, as it champions any powerful force like a bent over politician. Now, we need a real investigation of the county administration, the whole Breuer scam, the MedMart scam... and the tax increase must be cancelled and the funds returned to the public. Then we must vet some new leaders for our community, and the PD should help. But the vetting process will not be led by the crony squad big-coal Strickland put together... it must be led by we the people.

So who are the good leaders of the region?

Disrupt IT

Jim Rokakis

When the foreclosures began to accelerate and the bank fraud was first in evidence, Jim Rokakis was paying attention. He has made himself accessible to people needing help - too accessible perhaps (see this article on the National Association of Counties website: Cuyahoga Treasurer Jim Rokakis shines in national spotlight)

As County Treasurer, he has been watching the evidence of this storm brew for some time. When he returned my call to ask whether or not the county had the funds to build a new administration building in place of the Breuer, he said no. Actually it was something like "are you kidding?! No we don't."

You'd think that the auditor, Frank Russo would have sent that message early on - the "we have a foreclosure crisis on our hands" - the "we're gonna run out of money for health and human services" message; maybe the recorder, Patrick O’Malley - the guys who deal with deeds and property tax. Was it really about porn on his computer or is that a screen for a larger iceberg? Is the republican administration trying to make the moral fiber of democrats in Ohio look like a "little piece of string”?

But it was Rokakis who clearly saw that we were in trouble and got out of his chair to bring the issue to the national news. He had long been speaking out against predatory lending.

When we spoke on the phone last fall I told him of my trip to New Orleans the previous May; I said I thought that New Orleans would be much worse, but it resembles Cleveland - block for block. The only differences are that the French Quarter is lively (no where in Cleveland is that lively storm or no storm) and some of the wrecked houses and empty lots have trailers on and by them. He knew...

So will Rokakis be dragged down, too? Will any of them be dragged down? Will Peter Lawson Jones and Tim Hagan remain standing or will they be found complicit with whatever deals were made - the deals that might be detailed in those boxes? Could the FBI and IRS really be doing a search of this magnitude because of some wiring and pool installation at the homes of Dimora and Russo? Let's hope not... Let's hope they will uncover and untangle the entire mess. It will be an interesting journey to see what is revealed.

it's time for politicians to distinguish themselves

Susan, now's the time that will separate the men from the boys, as we used to say in days gone by.


Politicians will have to begin to make critical distinctions and to separate themselves from their run-of-the mill, rank-and-file, party-affiliated brethren in office. The good ones must break ranks, lead, and become advocates. They must become wise and courageous.

who'll be next?

City of Cleveland? Port Authority? National Park? Cleveland Metroparks? Forest City? Will it be like a government official foreclosure crisis where offices are vacated and jail cells filled instead?

I was reminded of the lyric by William Burrows on Laurie Anderson's Mister Heartbreak album.
"Hey sport. You connect the dots. You pick up the pieces." From Sharkey's Night. Well with the internet, we're connecting the dots and we're picking up the pieces.

Port Authority in center of all corrupt deals

What's next...? It seems the Port Authority has been running a slush fund for fat development contracts for bloated businesses kicking back slushies to fat cat politicos... everyone involved with any of that at any level should go to jail.

And the whole VA dealmaking seems corrupt, with Doan Pyramid in the middle of that and the County FBI sting.

I can just picture all these crooks sitting around Dimora's tiki bar, with a full crew of strippers lounging around his burbully pool, all funded by County taxpayers without their knowledge.

Seems the Arts and MedMart tax funding were intended to make only a few lives beautiful and healthy.

Disrupt IT

Political toilets backing up


Well, it appears as if various byproducts of the sewer district have hit the fan and, combined perhaps with the O'Malley investigations, have provided fertile hunting grounds for the FBI and IRS.  The county certainly produces lots of rich patronage from the muck.


One of the paybacks in politics is in naming things and honoring people. Rumors are rampant that Cleveland Metroparks is considering renaming the 
Rocky River Nature Center after the appointing judge. This is being opposed on several grounds. First, it appears inappropriate to do this for someone who appointed you, and second, after 90 years there are too many politicians, judges, and indeed employees who might deserve recognition. 


 When the RRNC was enlarged 10 years ago, the commissioners rejected the idea of naming it after a substantial donor, saying that was not appropriate. So it is hard for some to accept this now. Volunteers are collecting signatures opposing the change. How ironic it is for this to come out now even as other politicians dive for cover.


photographing Russo's outdoor lighting

I personally got a kick hearing that one. Doan Electric threw in the fixtures to get something.

Obviously the FBI and IRS we're there not to get the evidence. They have that collected over the course of dunderheaded corruption by Huey, Dewey and Louie.

They were putting the finishing touches for the court case. How else are you going to get a picture to verify if you can't get near Frank Russo's palace?

and to top it off...meddling lawyers like John Climaco just happen to be wandering around the grounds.

When's Dimora going to announce his "retirement" from both the commisioner post AND the county democratic party? .

Could this truly clean out the county house? I'm doubtful. We're not going to become Portland Oregon when this is done. Would be nice.

My worst fear will is that someone at the bottom will take the fall or the two will only get replaced by the next new bully on the block.


  To quote dweller:
My worst fear will is that someone at the bottom will take the fall or the two will only get replaced by the next new bully on the block.  I am going to have to reread Candide :)

(A cautionary note to Brian Cummins--this is how it all starts).

Susan, don't be fooled by the musical chairs routine.  There are no saviors here.  Rokakis and Cimperman are the last two politicos I would be looking at for salvation.  Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Fascinating dialogue

Great comments, all.   Having followed developing events to this point and learning a bit more about the evil phrase 'Public Corruption' we're looking at the sort of behavior that has likely prevailed amongst 'Cleveland Crony' government and corporate bigwigs in the misogynist back rooms of the Union Club since the dawn of time.  Time and time again we've seen public officials, whether frustrated by what they perceive to be middling salaries relevant to their powerful positions, or giddy with said power - travel down the path of corruption.  Insider deals, kickbacks, infidelities, and dishonesty pervade this evil world of dirty politics.

Providing lucrative and illegal exclusivities to key contractors for big-money projects is probably just the beginning in this case.  We'll find out much more, I'm sure in the coming days and weeks ahead. 

If anything, I hope the microscopes now honed in on the County by Press and Feds alike will discover and purge all these corruptive elements - and not fear extension of this investigation to the other two comissioners, Hagan and Jones, in the process.  In the Cuyahoga County Commissioner world - it takes three to tango - perhaps the other two were truly oblivious to all these goings on but I am a bit skeptical at this point.   Better safe than sorry...