A $1,000 fine was the appropriate sentence for Frank Lordi and not 18 months in jail, the congressman said.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
BOARDMAN -- U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. wrapped up his last day as guest host of WKBN-AM's morning show defending two felons.
Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, who faces 10 felony counts, spoke in support today of former Mahoning County Sheriff Phil Chance and former county Commissioner Frank Lordi.
Chance is serving a 71-month federal prison sentence for taking $65,000 in bribes from former local mob boss Lenny Strollo. During the broadcast, Traficant said Chance didn't get all the money -- some of it went to the people around him. The congressman offered no proof or explanation for the statement.
Chance was a deputy when Traficant served as sheriff during the early 1980s. Traficant has repeatedly called Chance the county's second-best sheriff ever.
"I don't think there's a better street cop in the history of Youngstown than Phil Chance," Traficant said today.
Much support: Traficant has served as guest host of the radio station's morning show since Tuesday. An overwhelming number of callers to the show this week supported Traficant, who was indicted May 4 on 10 counts including bribery, racketeering and tax evasion.
Traficant also said it was ridiculous that Lordi, who reported to jail today, should be forced to serve an 18-month prison sentence because the time doesn't fit the crime.
Lordi was convicted of theft in office, conflict of interest and unlawful interest in a public contract. The theft in office charge relates to Lordi's having county workers circulate nominating petitions on county time.
"The estimated theft in office was $200, and it cost $250,000 to prosecute him," Traficant said of Lordi. "Who's kidding who? What he did was wrong, but they should have had him pay a $1,000 fine and let him keep his job."
Traficant had previously vowed to discuss his criminal indictment on the radio show, but did not say much about it. He said to talk about the trial would give federal prosecutors the ammunition needed to relocate the trial's location from Cleveland. Traficant wants to keep the case there.
New lead: During the show, he said he received a telephone call Thursday from a constituent who claimed Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Morford, the lead attorney on Traficant's case, had previously told him the prosecutor did not trust the Youngstown FBI office.
Morford could not be reached this morning to comment. But the local FBI office played a big part in the Traficant investigation as well as the successful prosecution of more than 70 politicians, judges and attorneys on corruption charges in recent years.
Traficant said he will release an affidavit from the constituent next week.
"Morford hasn't been on the payroll of the mob, and that says a lot for him," he said. "It will be a hell of a trial."