The government says the congressman deserves the highest sentence available.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
CLEVELAND -- The government wants a federal judge to put U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. in prison for about seven years -- more if possible.
In a 19-page sentencing memorandum filed today in U.S. District Court, the government asks that U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells depart from the established sentencing guidelines and sentence him in the 70- to 87-month range or more, asking for the maximum.
The government doesn't say what range Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, now falls in, but typically, a racketeering conviction at the low end carries a penalty of 33 to 41 months.
Prosecutors also want the judge to levy a substantial fine. The 61-year-old congressman already has to pay a $96,000 forfeiture.
In today's motion, federal prosecutors outline Traficant's "egregious pattern of misconduct" and ask that the judge consider that when she sentences him July 30. The judge can consider increasing the sentence based on abuse of public trust, obstruction of justice and his leadership role in the crimes committed.
A jury found Traficant guilty on April 11 of all 10 counts he faced. The jury believed he accepted kickbacks from high-level congressional staffers, had other staffers do work at his horse farm, accepted cash and gifts from businessmen and encouraged witnesses to hide facts of the crimes.
The government said that, without departing upward from the sentencing guidelines, Traficant's conduct would be treated no differently than any run-of-the-mill bribery case. "It is not," prosecutors said.
Prosecutors described him as one of the highest elected officials in the Mahoning Valley, who sold his office and used his office to influence other federal agencies and the state for his own personal gain.
"Congressman Traficant's misconduct has national impact," the motion states.
"Using his access to the national media, [Traficant] after announcing he was under investigation, took to the national airwaves to obstruct the investigation by attacking the FBI, IRS, U.S. Attorney's Office, U.S. Department of Justice, the Court and even the U.S. Congress."