Government backs off plan to seek funds from N.Y. seller
The ex-congressman said in a letter that the paintings were gifts.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The government has filed a motion to dismiss its attempt to obtain funds from a New York woman who has sold paintings done in federal prison by former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.
The government's motion to dismiss, filed in Cleveland federal court, notes that its motion is "without prejudice," meaning it can be refiled at a later date.
In January, the government applied for a writ of garnishment, naming Sybille Oelschlager of Schuyler Falls, N.Y., as the garnishee. Writs allow the government to determine if anyone is holding items of value for Traficant that could be used to satisfy the $150,000 fine levied by a federal judge as part of Traficant's sentence.
Oelschlager, Traficant's pen pal and fellow artist, has said she sold the paintings on eBay and the Web site beammeupart.com with the idea of giving some of the proceeds back to him for art supplies.
Oelschlager told the government that she holds no property subject to the order of garnishment and contends she is therefore not liable as a garnishee. She attached a letter from Traficant in her response.
"I gave the paintings to you as a gift!!" Traficant wrote. "I have received no funds -- not one penny of remuneration, and I am still being pursued for moneys I have never seen!!"
Traficant, 64, of Poland, is incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn. He was sentenced to eight years in prison July 30, 2002. A jury in Cleveland federal court convicted him of racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion. His projected release date is Sept. 2, 2009.