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Lawyer says he has aided defense



Published: Thu, January 31, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The congressman also filed a $250 million civil lawsuit against the government.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

CLEVELAND -- A curious notation appears at the top of U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant's motion to dismiss his indictment: The Colucci Law Office and its fax number.

Traficant, who has repeatedly described himself to U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells, the government and the public as his own lawyer, filed the 19-page motion late Wednesday.

Traficant also filed a $250 million civil rights lawsuit against the government late Wednesday. He asks for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prohibit his racketeering trial from going forward Monday.

The civil complaint has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus in Youngstown. The congressman attached 77 pages of documents he said will demonstrate the government's misdeeds.

Traficant, meanwhile, failed to sign his motion to Judge Wells in two places on the last page -- where he requests a hearing and shows that a copy was sent to the government.

"This pro se defendant once and for all requests the court to hold open court regarding these allegations and not let them disappear into thin air by denying this motion and giving the rubber stamp of injustice to the government," the unsigned request for a hearing states.

Acknowledges helping: On Wednesday, when The Vindicator asked Mark S. Colucci, a Youngstown attorney, if he had supplied the motion, he had no comment. This morning, Colucci acknowledged that he has helped the congressman.

Colucci said an individual has an absolute right to represent himself at trial and to consult with anybody he wants, lawyers and nonlawyers, in preparation of his defense.

Another shot at Morford: In the motion, Traficant raises the issue of misconduct, specifically aimed at Craig S. Morford, lead prosecutor. The motion is nearly identical to several that Traficant filed last summer, complete with dozens of questions he wanted to ask Morford, had Judge Wells held an evidentiary hearing.

Since Traficant's indictment last May, Judge Wells has rejected his repeated attempts to have Morford removed from the case. She has called the evidence the congressman submitted to prove "mammoth misconduct" staged and self-serving.

The congressman's motion includes complaints he filed last summer and others he submitted within the past few weeks, all of which have been rejected by Judge Wells.

In an order filed Tuesday, Judge Wells denied yet another request by Traficant for a hearing on prosecutorial misconduct. She noted that he missed the Jan. 9 deadline for pretrial motions, when he could have raised the issue of selective or vindictive prosecution and argued to have her dismiss his indictment.

The motion he filed Wednesday seeks to do what he could have done before the Jan. 9 deadline.

Seeks dismissal of charge: Traficant also filed a three-page motion Wednesday asking that Count 10 in his indictment, the racketeering charge, be dismissed. He said it is nothing more than a rehashing of the previous counts.

Colucci raised an allegation of misconduct against Morford last year related to Traficant's farmhand.

A federal judge had threatened to impose sanctions against Colucci last December for filing a "frivolous complaint" when the lawyer suggested Morford pressured the farmhand, Clarence T. Broad, to plead guilty to tampering with a grand jury witness. Colucci withdrew his complaint.

meade@vindy.com




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