Defense tries to soil Frank Russo's credibility by painting him as money-grubbing thief

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - The cross-examination of Frank Russo is, at times, combative as defense attorneys question him in the Jimmy Dimora corruption trial.

On his first day of testimony, Russo boasted of the power he and Dimora began to wield almost immediately after their election to countywide offices in 1998. He said they came to the realization that they had clout and people would pay to have access to it.

The line of questioning started Wednesday with Russo being asked about his rigged re-election in 2006. He put a sham candidate in the race against himself, had him stay in the race until it was too late for the Republican Party to replace him and then drop out. Russo paid him cash bribes and eventually gave him a job making more than his supervisor in the Auditor's Office.

Russo described how people would line up at his fundraisers, hundreds of people. Russo said, "People would line up and put cash in your pocket to be nice. 50's, 100's, you know." One man who Russo didn't even know put an envelope containing $2,000 in his pocket to get a job for his son.

He said Dan Weaver paid $3,000 each for job, and $5,000 or $10,000 for a promotion for himself.  Joe O'Malley would come by his office and drop off $5,000 from time to time for contract steering. Attorney Anthony O. Calabrese III paid $20,000 for taxes to be lowered on the Indian Hills Retirement Community in Euclid. Samir Mohammad gave him $44,000 for various favors. The list went on and on.

The defense is doing little to challenge him on Dimora's actions in the schemes, but rather is attempting to soil Russo's credibility by showing him to be a money grubbing person.

Russo said he was alerted to the FBI raid on his home when his domestic partner, Michael Calabrese, came into a bedroom where Russo was sleeping and said, "The FBI is here, the FBI here."  At the door, agents said they'd like to talk to him, he said, "I'm sorry, you'll have to talk to my attorney."  They said, "We have a search warrant."

He said he had no idea of the scope of the raids until he saw the 19 Action News Helicopter hovering over his home.

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