CLEVELAND -- A federal judge has ruled that three of five documents that represent communications in 1998 between Paul P. Marcone, U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.'s chief of staff at the time, and Richard E. Detore, then an official at USAerospace Group in Virginia, can be used at the congressman's trial.
U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells reserved a ruling on two remaining documents. Detore is Traficant's co-defendant in a bribery charge but will stand trial separately. Judge Wells will also allow as evidence a letter Traficant sent to the Saudi Embassy, threatening the Saudi government with future hearings and legislation unless it did what he wanted.
What the congressman wanted was a resolution to a dispute Bucheit International had with a Saudi Arabian prince over payment for construction of a shopping mall.
Bernard J. Bucheit is another a co-defendant accused of bribing Traficant and will stand trial separately. Traficant sought suppression of the documents, contending that they are protected by the speech or debate clause in the Constitution.
The clause grants immunity from legal reprisal from comments members make on the House floor, documents inserted in the Congressional Record and legislative acts. Traficant's trial begins Monday. He is accused of using his position to enrich himself.
In another ruling, Judge Wells denied Traficant's request for a 14-delay in the start of his trial, which begins Monday.