Zimmerman Found Guilty

As you might remember, Dean Zimmerman lost his Minneapolis city council re-election bid last year after his home was raided by Federal investigators in September. Now, the former Green Party officeholder has been found guilty of taking bribes from a developer. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

From KSTP-TV:

A former Minneapolis City Council member was convicted Thursday in federal court on charges related to taking bribes from a developer who had business before the city.

Dean Zimmermann, 64, who represented the city’s sixth ward from 2001 to 2005, was convicted of three of four charges contained in the indictment.

The charges he was convicted of involved accusations that he took $7,200 in cash from property developer Gary Carlson. The government presented video tapes of him taking the money during the eight-day trial.

He was found not guilty of one count of soliciting property from people who had business with the city.

“Public corruption will not be tolerated in this state,” said U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose. “Minnesotans have the right to expect that elected officials will work for the public good and not for what they might gain personally through back-room deals.”

Many supporters of Zimmermann, a longtime community activist, were in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

Betsy Barnum, former state chair of Zimmermann’s Green Party, said, “I think this is not justice and don’t think he’s guilty of any crime. I’m sorry to see the FBI engaged in this sort of thing. This man isn’t a corrupt man. Entrapment isn’t too strong a word for what they did to him.”

The defense claimed the developer pushed the money onto Zimmermann, while prosecutors insisted Zimmermann was predisposed to take bribes and the government only presented him with the opportunity.

Closing arguments in the case were Wednesday and jurors deliberated about six hours over two days before issuing their ruling Thursday afternoon.

Zimmermann is the third member of the Minneapolis City Council to be convicted of taking money or favors from constituents. Brian Herron was sentenced to one year in federal prison in February 2002 and Joe Biernat was sentenced to one year and nine months in federal prison in April 2003.

U.S. District Judge Ann D. Montgomery will sentence Zimmermann. No sentencing date was set. Under state sentencing guidelines, the maximum potential sentence would be 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the three counts.

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