Government targets Traficant's pension
The ex-congressman has been in prison for 162 days.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
CLEVELAND -- In the government's hunt for former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.'s assets, it has targeted the Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio.
In a U.S. District Court filing made available Monday, the government added Traficant's state pension to the growing list of people and places that may hold items of value that could be used to satisfy the imprisoned ex-congressman's debt. The filing is called a writ of garnishment.
Traficant, convicted of racketeering and tax crimes, has been in federal custody for 162 days. His release date from the Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood in White Deer, Pa., is July 17, 2009.
While incarcerated, Traficant, 61, of Poland is expected to pay off a $150,000 fine. So far, he has paid nothing and, with interest, owes $150,899 as of Dec. 23.
He also owes a $96,000 forfeiture and nearly $20,000 to the IRS.
Traficant's state retirement pension is roughly $11,000 annually. He served 11 years as director of the Mahoning County Drug Program and four years as Mahoning County sheriff.
He has been eligible to receive his state pension since he turned 60.
For Traficant's 17 years and seven months in the U.S. House of Representatives, he will receive an annual pension of about $40,000 annually when he turns 62 on May 8.
Writs of garnishment have also been filed against Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union. The WPCFU is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative that serves the House and other select employee groups.
Financial disclosure forms Traficant filled out for 2002 show that he had between $1 and $1,000 in the credit union. In 1999, the amount claimed was between $15,000 and $50,000.
Last month, a garnishment was filed against Traficant's daughter, Elizabeth Traficant Chahine, 30, of Boardman, who consigned 80-plus items for sale at auction. The Traficant memorabilia brought in net proceeds of $10,314.
Youngstown attorney Don L. Hanni Jr. has said that only a few of items sold at auction were determined to be Traficant's, not his daughter's. Most of the items came from Traficant's horse farm in Greenford, which is in Chahine's name.