The Free Jimbo movement grows

YOUNGSTOWN — Robert F. Hagan isn’t the only state legislator from the Mahoning Valley who wants to see ex-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. get out of jail early.

State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, said the nearly five years Traficant has spent in federal prison is “more than adequate” for the crimes he committed.

“Quite frankly, Jim Traficant paid his debt to society,” Gerberry said. “...It’s time to let him out.”

A federal jury found Traficant guilty in 2002 of 10 felony charges including racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion. He was sentenced to eight years in prison July 30, 2002, but his projected release is Sept. 2, 2009.

Hagan, an Ohio House member from Youngstown, is asking President Bush to commute the time left on Traficant’s sentence in light of Bush’s commutation of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s 30-month prison sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice.

“Our congressman served his time,” said Gerberry, who added that he doubted Bush would let Traficant out of jail early.

“The things he’s done aren’t any worse than what a lot of people have done and I think he should be pardoned,” Mahoning County Commissioner David Ludt said.

A jury convicted Traficant on charges that he had congressional aides perform chores at his farm in Greenford and on a houseboat he used to own in Washington, D.C., on taxpayers’ time as well as have a few of them kick-back portions of their salaries to him. The jury also convicted Traficant for accepting money, gifts and favors from local businessmen in return for his help with local, state and federal agencies.

Other politicians don’t agree with Hagan.

“The commutation of Scooter Libby doesn’t make Jim Traficant any less guilty,” said state Sen. John Boccieri of New Middletown, D-33rd.

An early release won’t receive support from Gov. Ted Strickland, who served in the U.S. House with Traficant, said Keith Dailey, the governor’s spokesman.

For the full story, read Saturday's Vindicator and

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