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Judge orders immediate payment of $96K from kickbacks and bribes



Published: Thu, August 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A Columbus lawyer filed an appeal seeking Traficant's release on bond.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

CLEVELAND -- Imprisoned ex-congressman James A. Traficant Jr. has to pay his $96,000 racketeering forfeiture now.

In an order filed Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells authorized the federal government to seize the money. An accompanying schedule of payments states that Traficant shall forfeit the money immediately, pursuant to the jury's findings in the case and court orders.

In April, the jury that found Traficant guilty determined that he owed $96,000 derived from a staffer's kickbacks, cash bribes, gifts and services in the racketeering count. In all, he was found guilty of 10 counts, including bribery and tax evasion.

Hairpiece

Traficant was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison and taken into custody by U.S. marshals. Temporarily, Traficant is being housed at the Summit County Jail in Akron, where he had to remove his hairpiece during the booking process.

Maj. Charles Pongracz said today that Traficant is the same as he's always been -- flamboyant. He's talking to jail staff about running for re-election in November, the major said.

Traficant is in a 10-foot-by-10-foot cell with access to a microwave and TV in a day room. He can make all the collect phone calls he wants.

So far, the ex-congressman has declined to talk to reporters, Pongracz said. "That's unusual, but that could change," he said.

Traficant listed himself as unemployed and his former employment as congressman/sheriff, said a records clerk. The jail collected $608 he had on him in cash, the clerk said.

Once in a federal prison, his hairpiece will be evaluated based on security concerns that contraband could be hidden underneath, Dan Dunne, Bureau of Prison spokesman in Washington, D.C., has said.

Michael Millken, Wall Street junk bond king, was not permitted to keep his hairpiece in prison, Dunne said.

County records, meanwhile, show that Traficant's home in Poland, worth about $160,000, is in the name of his wife, Tish. His horse farm in Greenford, worth about $150,000, is in his daughter Elizabeth's name.

No records show property in his name. His congressional pension is about $39,000.

Immediate custody

In remanding Traficant to custody, Judge Wells agreed with pretrial services that he violated conditions of his bond -- and knows he did -- by traveling to western Pennsylvania last week to interview a prosecution witness.

She also noted that he threatened FBI agents and may pose a danger to the safety of the community.

Pretrial services also recommended to Judge Wells that Traficant be imprisoned immediately because court officers were not able to verify his financial status or his residence -- he would not allow a visit to his home.

Traficant, 61, lists his residence on Main Street in Poland, where his wife, Tish, lives.

While in prison, Traficant will pay a $150,000 fine -- the cost of his incarceration. He also had to pay a special assessment of $1,000.

When Traficant is released from prison and begins serving three years' supervised release, he must provide his probation officer with any requested financial information. He also must pay any remaining unpaid financial penalty imposed by the judge and $19,580 in unpaid taxes.

In other court action, Columbus attorney Percy Squire, a Youngstown native, filed an appeal asking that the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overrule Judge Wells' order that denied Traficant bond pending the outcome of his appeal.




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