The Beginning: Cuyahoga County corruption scandal

There was no testimony in the Jimmy Dimora corruption trial on Monday as courts were closed due to the federal holiday.

19 Action News Reporter Paul Orlousky has tracked the case from the beginning and looks at how the FBI developed a tiny bit of information into this massive case.

Swarms of FBI and IRS agents carting hard drives and boxes of documents from the Cuyahoga County Administration Building. July 28th, 2008, the homes of Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo also raided along with a half dozen businesses whose executives have pleaded guilty and cut deals with the feds.

Most interesting, DAS Construction, whose boss was Steven Pumper. With 150 or so agents working that day, the assumption is that the investigation always was this massive. In truth, it had very humble beginnings.

The first solid clue that Dimora and Russo were involved when an FBI agent met with Cleveland building inspector Bobby Cuevas at a suburban Boston Market.  Cuevas was working with the FBI and agreed to solicit a bribe from Steven Pumper of DAS.  Pumper gave him an envelope and when he came outside the FBI confronted him.  He said, "You don't want me you want Dimora and Russo and them."

Prior to that, rumors had been spreading that something stunk about the county's ill fated Ameritrust Tower purchase. The FBI had already been talking to 10 confidential informants, but didn't have a direct tie to Dimora and Russo. With Pumper's help, now it did.

Kevin Kelley talked tough as a school board president about people illegally attending Parma schools. In the corruption case, he was a pussycat, providing information to agents as soon as they came knocking. Another misconception is that the FBI had been listening to wiretaps for years. Not true. The wiretaps didn't begin until December of 2007 - only 7 months before the raids.

So the deal making, the talk of prostitutes and everything we've heard so far covers only a snippet of the long political careers of Dimora and Russo. You have to wonder what the FBI doesn't know about.

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