One staff member says he lent a hand at the farm on his own time.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
CLEVELAND -- U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.'s regional director, the Trumbull County health administrator and a former reserve deputy labored at the congressman's farm while collecting federal paychecks, the government says.
Until now, federal prosecutors had identified the three men in Traficant's 10-count indictment by number only -- Employee 1, Employee 2 and Employee 3.
In a filing this week, among 94 pages of proposed jury instructions, prosecutors identified the men as:
UAnthony Traficanti of Poland, Traficant's regional director who works out of the congressman's district office in Youngstown's federal court. Traficanti has worked for Traficant since April 1, 1991. His annual salary is $47,250.
UGeorge F. Buccella of Niles, Trumbull County Board of Health administrator and a former Weathersfield Township trustee. He was on the congressman's staff at the Niles office from Feb. 1, 1985, to May 2000, earning $35,325 a year when he resigned.
URichard A. Rovnak of Struthers, a part-time employee from Oct. 1, 1990, to July 31, 1992, at the Overhill Road office in Boardman, who earned $8,800 annually. Rovnak served as a reserve deputy when Traficant was Mahoning County sheriff in the early 1980s.
The allegations associated with the farm labor fall under the mail fraud racketeering charges against the 17th District congressman.
He is accused of directing the three men to work on his horse farm at 6908 W. South Range Road in Green Township and allowing their government paychecks to cover the cost of the labor.
The congressman's racketeering trial begins Feb. 4.
One response: Traficanti said that he didn't know if the prosecution team would subpoena him to testify and that all his dealings in the case have been handled by his Youngstown lawyer, John F. Shultz.
"I lent a hand to my boss on occasions -- on my own time," Traficanti said of the farm work. "That's all I can say. That's it. Yeah, I was there, but on my own time."
Shultz said he could not comment "at this point."
Reached at work, Buccella acknowledged that he has been subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify at trial. Buccella declined to comment further, saying he didn't want to jeopardize the case.
His Warren lawyer, John E. Fowler II, said his client has been offered limited immunity to testify, meaning he is free from prosecution for any statements he makes on the witness stand. Fowler said Buccella isn't expected to testify until the end of February.
Rovnak could not be reached to comment.
Type of work: While on the congressional payroll, Traficanti, Buccella and Rovnak did various farm chores, including baling hay, running and repairing farm equipment and maintaining and repairing barn walls, horse stalls and a farmhouse deck, the government said.
They also built a horse corral, converted a corncrib to another use, and did electrical and plumbing repairs, the government said.
The government said Traficanti labored at the farm from 1991 to 1996; Buccella from 1988 to February 2000; and Rovnak from October 1990 to July 1992.