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Do we have to live with the scum?



Published: Sun, September 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)




"One's residence is the place one goes when one intends to return home." That's the standard used by the Ohio secretary of state in determining whether a candidate for elective office meets the residency requirement for the office. And that's the standard the Trumbull County Board of Elections embraced in concluding that former congressman and now federal prisoner James A. Traficant Jr. is qualified to run as an independent candidate in the Nov. 5 general election.

Traficant, who is serving an eight-year sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood in White Deer, Pa., is seeking to return to Congress as a representative of the reconfigured 17th District. He had represented the current 17th District for 17 years and seven months before he was expelled from the House after his conviction on numerous federal criminal charges, including racketeering, bribery and tax evasion.

But there were two words in the secretary of state's residency standard that jumped out when they appeared in the Aug. 28 edition of The Vindicator: "return home." Traficant, at some point, will be back in our midst.

Here's an individual who took the public's trust and shredded it like barbecue pork served in the South, and yet he intends to return to his Poland home after he has done his time. Has he no shame? Of course not.

Shame isn't a quality that the Mahoning Valley's crooks display. Indeed, they wear their criminality like a badge of honor.

Elvis look-alike outfit

Does anyone doubt that when former Mahoning County prosecutor and now federal inmate James A. Philomena completes his four-year sentence, he'll be back among us, decked out in his Elvis look-alike jumpsuit? Does anyone doubt that in a matter of days Philomena will have returned to his arrogant self and that his selling of the prosecutor's office will be the stuff of barroom banter?

Or how about Richard Goldberg, the one-time leading medical malpractice lawyer who is now in prison for cheating clients out of the settlement money they received for their pain and suffering? Does anyone doubt that Goldberg will return to his flashy lifestyle even before he loses his prison pallor?

The lack of shame on the part of many of the individuals who have been caught in the federal government's investigation of public corruption and organized crime in the Mahoning Valley is palpable.

Consider what took place during the recent tribute to Monsignor John DeMarinis, a prominent member of the Catholic clergy and long-time pastor of St. Anthony Church in Brier Hill. Several hundred people were in attendance, including Bishop Thomas Tobin, but it was the presence of J.J. Cafaro and his inclusion among the VIPs on the dais that attracted attention.

Cafaro appeared to be his exuberant self -- even though he is a felon awaiting sentencing.

Yes, Cafaro is an admitted crook. He admitted that he lied under oath during the trial of former Mahoning County Sheriff Phil Chance, and he admitted that he gave $13,000 to then Congressman Traficant. After Cafaro was confronted by federal prosecutors with his perjured testimony in the Chance trial, he entered into a plea agreement with the government.

Cafaro, vice president of the Youngstown-based Cafaro Co., one of the largest shopping center developers in the country, agreed to testify for the prosecution in Traficant's trial. In return, he is expected to walk away with a tap-on-the-wrist when he is sentenced.

Culture of corruption

But for the honest residents of the Mahoning Valley who have been trying for years to end the culture of corruption in government and who have long decried the willingness of individuals to grease the palms of officeholders, Cafaro's actions certainly don't warrant any kudos.

Where's Thomas Jenkins when you need him?

Who's Thomas Jenkins? He was a judge in Youngstown in 1927 when, in an effort to nab the prowler who had been roaming the East Side for two weeks, police detectives rounded up 22 people in various East End hangouts on charges of being suspicious.

One of the men, Howard Lyles, was found guilty. His sentence? Judge Jenkins ordered him to leave town or serve 25 days in jail.

Yes, Lyles was expelled from the city.

If only the law-abiding citizens of the Valley could order Traficant, Philomena, Goldberg, Cafaro and all the other crooks to leave the area, never to return.




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