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CLEVELAND Jury asks judge for guidance on count



Published: Thu, April 11, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The jurors wanted to know about elements in determining whether bribery had been committed.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

CLEVELAND -- The government and U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. had a phone conference late this morning with the judge in his racketeering trial.

The jurors had a question about deciding one of the 11 racketeering acts in Count 10 of the congressman's indictment, which alleges a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells explained the three elements that must be met to find that the crime of bribery had been committed:

U That the defendant demanded, sought or received something of value.

U That he was a public official at the time.

U That he received the bribe corruptly.

The jury question related to contractors Anthony R. and Robert Bucci.

In deciding, the juors wondered, did they need to agree on all of the overt acts?

The judge told the jurors that they had asked a very good question and that she would also make the response to them in writing.

Getting impatient: Traficant, who had been reached by phone, said, "I don't give a damn what you do, I am so upset."

Craig S. Morford, lead prosecutor, explained that the jurors don't have to agree on any of the overt acts -- they just have to agree that the three elements were met.

There was a problem with Traficant's hearing the judge or Morford. The judge said, "If you want to come down here, you can."

Traficant said, "I'm spending four days waiting by a telephone, and frankly, I'm getting tired of it."

He said the jury should rule on what it believes. He said he had no conspiracy with the Buccis.

The jurors adjourned to lunch until 2:30 p.m.

Deliberations: As of noon today, the sequestered jurors -- 10 women and two men -- had deliberated about 23 hours. They received the case Monday afternoon.

On Wednesday, the jury decided to go out for lunch, accompanied by U.S. marshals; lunch was delivered Tuesday, their first full day of deliberations.

Jurors ended their day trying to reach a verdict shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The trial began Feb. 5 with jury selection. The prosecution called 55 witnesses. Traficant called 31 witnesses, three of whom Judge Wells determined could not testify based on relevance or hearsay.

Charges: The 60-year-old congressman faces four counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, two counts of tax evasion, and one count each of accepting an illegal gratuity, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to defraud the United States and racketeering.

Traficant, in Congress since 1985, is accused of cheating on his taxes, taking kickbacks, compelling staffers to do work at his 76-acre horse farm in Greenford, accepting bribes and gifts from businessmen and using his influential position to provide favors instead of paying contractors for work at the farm.

If convicted, he likely faces four to six years in prison under the sentencing guidelines.




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