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Jimbo heads home after eight years

Published: Tue, December 9, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Patricia Meade

YOUNGSTOWN — Jimbo’s coming home.

On March 9, ex-congressman James A. Traficant Jr., called Jimbo by friends and foes alike, will report to Community Corrections Association, a halfway facility on Market Street. The 67-year-old convicted felon’s eight-year federal prison sentence expires Sept. 2, 2009, and then he’ll serve three years’ supervised release.

In April 2002, a jury in Cleveland found the nine-term Democratic congressman guilty of all 10 counts he faced — including racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion. The jury, after a 10-week trial, believed that he took kickbacks from high-level staffers, used other staffers as farmhands on federal time, accepted cash gifts and services from businessmen, cheated on his taxes and tried to influence witnesses.

The U.S. House of Representatives, using the trial transcript, found “clear and convincing evidence” that he broke House rules. The vote was 420-1 to expel him July 24, 2002, a week before he was sentenced.

Traficant is incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., but why has not been made public. The prison houses inmates with health or psychological problems. He took up painting to pass the time, crafting mostly horses and barns.

Richard J. Billak, CCA chief executive officer, said the Bureau of Prisons called Monday, asking if his facility would accept a “high-profile” placement. He said sure.

CCA has a 28-bed area for federal inmates, generally two to three to a room. An adjoining common room, or lounge, has two phones and a TV that isn’t turned on until after dinner.

Inmates have house assignments such as cleaning the laundry room and bathroom, vacuuming and washing dishes, Billak said. They don’t cook meals; everything from cheeseburgers to pizza to chicken are served. No alcohol is permitted.

Before the end of a 14-day medical assessment and orientation period, Traficant must find a full-time job approved by CCA. A vocational specialist at CCA can help in the employment search.

Billak said the Bureau of Prisons may impose special conditions for employment but that won’t be known until closer to Traficant’s arrival date. He said Traficant has a lot of friends, some of whom may offer him a job.

Could he be a greeter at Wal-Mart? Sure, Billak said, any legitimate employment is acceptable. CCA staff will visit his employer to verify that it is legitimate work, and he must turn his paychecks over to CCA, which keeps 25 percent for his room and board.

Traficant, who will be permitted to drive himself to work, must first reapply for a driver’s license, Billak said.

If Traficant stays problem free at CCA for three months, he will transfer to home confinement for the final three months. If he violates any conditions imposed on him by CCA or the Bureau of Prisons, he will be returned to federal prison, Billak said. The conditions include getting and keeping a job, no insubordination and clean urine — free of drugs and alcohol.

Traficant will be given a urine test every day that he returns to CCA after work, Billak said.

Traficant, of Poland, can go home for visits, three to six hours at a time on weekends, within his first month. After that, the time extends to six to nine hours on Saturdays and Sundays for the next two months.

He’s not allowed to ride around town. CCA will make several random calls to his home while he’s there to check on him, Billak said.

He’s not allowed to be around other felons — no one on probation or parole, Billak said.

Before sentencing 6 1/2 years ago, prosecutors, citing “extensive, pervasive and systematic corruption of his office,” asked Judge Lesley Brooks Wells to give Traficant 87 months or more in prison.

“The jurors in their 10-count verdict in this case stripped from you your pretensions of honor and integrity,” Judge Wells said when she sentenced him. “I’ve got to say it is too bad that you never served in the military for the United States, because there you might have learned something about duty and honor and, yes, even reverence towards this democracy, which is the greatest of all democracies: the United States.”

Traficant was defiant and belligerent to the end. “I committed no crimes. I regret nothing that I said.”

Judge Wells said in court that Traficant shamelessly abused the public trust and tarnished Congress and sullied the reputations and the beliefs of countless decent people. “You show open contempt and disloyalty to the individuals and the institutions that you were sworn to serve, and you did all of that from the position of United States Congressman.”

Traficant constantly interrupted the judge. He appeared not to understand that a judge’s assessment of a defendant is part of the sentencing.

“All of your lewd and rude and obscene bullying stuff gets you attention,” she said. “It’s maybe you beg for the attention. I don’t know. You seem to need the attention.”

The judge said his attacks on the government are the drumbeat of the big lie.

“Some people believe you across this country because you’ve got shock and entertainment value,” she said. “Some people believe you because they have their own selfish and even hostile reasons to exploit the kind of treacherous howling that you do when you complain about being a victim.”

The judge referred to one of Traficant’s favorite catch phrases — that he would fight like a junkyard dog. She said he fought to protect a junkyard full of deceit and corruption and greed.

Judge Wells ordered that Traficant pay a $96,000 forfeiture (derived from a staffer’s kickbacks, cash bribes, gifts and services in the racketeering count) and a $150,000 fine. His unpaid taxes amounted to $19,580.



1INYOURFACE(33 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago


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2Tugboat(759 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Nothing like giving this man more attention than most soldiers that have served in Iraq.

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3apollo(1227 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Conditions of parole are that he not associate with convicted felons. That could be difficult in the valley.

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4Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

JJ Cafaro who had bribed Jim got no time. Jim got plenty. The system easing him back into society after their steadfast refusals for an early release must have a motive. Jim must be in failing health. Most in the Valley welcome Jim back.


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5paulydel(1607 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

I am not one to want to see a crooked politician back but if for some reason he was in a mental health phase then I would have to take a look at the who issue. Unless you part of the jury we don't know ALL the facts in this case. From what I can read and what my mom has told me Jim did alot of good things for the area. Could it be because he did so many things and stepped on peoples toes on both sides that they wanted to take him out? I wonder.

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6Eliot_Ness(12 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

The malicious prosecutions of James Traficant and Richard Detore were elements of the what was arguably the most serious American political crime since Watergate -- wherein the Executive Branch DOJ removed its severest Congressional critic by means of coerced, perjured, and entirely hearsay testimony from witnesses who had serious legal jeopardy for other acts. E.g., J.J. and Capri Cafaro, Allen Sinclair.

In order to protect himself, Congressman Traficant famously never used cash. And despite years of massive investigation and audits, the Government could never show a jury any 'money' whatsoever. The DOJ's case rested entirely upon the word of -- for example -- convicted perjurer J.J. Cafaro and his daughter Capri.

In consideration for their entirely hearsay testimony, 1) the DOJ forgave J.J. Cafaro for a previous perjury conviction (J.J. did NOT serve his 18-24 month prison sentence), and 2) Capri Cafaro was NEVER investigated for the tax fraud and Torricelli money-scrubbing that were whistle blown to federal prosecutors by Richard Detore, a Cafaro Company employee who remains a patent-holding test pilot with a Top Secret federal security clearance.

Sworn Congressional testimony about Cafaro perjury -- and about relentless DOJ pressure on Detore to lie about Traficant -- can be viewed [parked] online. The Justice Department declined to investigate these allegations of serious federal crimes, despite a public request from then Congressman (now Ohio Governor) Ted Strickland.



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7ipaidattention(68 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

first of all, to the man who accused the local democrat friends of welcoming jim home, go screw yourself further than the republicans have bud, the fact is, neither party ever accepted jim, but he voted with the republicans more than the democrats, second, jim is not corrupt, the judicial system that got him was, do your research, he was removed from the valley for trial (no jury by peers) jj cafaro perjured himself (served no time) others were threatened by the FBI, (evidence was withheld from court) the jury was made up of people who the FBI had something against, and the judges' husband was a prosecuting attorney in the case (judge should have removed herself from the bench for conflict of interest) he was not allowed to present his evidence, never did anything any other politician is not guilty of, the problem was, he was unbribable, cafaro tried, and failed, yet you idiots continue to vote cafaro-backed politicians to your corrupt offices, you gave corruption to this area, and jim will run it out again

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8deebat(2 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Like X-Senator Ben "Nightshorse" Campbell, said of Sonny Barger of the Hells's Angels. He served his time and paid his debt to society. Let him be!
So should we of Jim Traficant!

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9youngstownforever(1 comment)posted 7 years, 7 months ago


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10Eliot_Ness(12 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago


In mid-2007 Morford became a national celebrity (hyped by the Press as a Dudley DoRight Traficant-slayer) when the President appointed him Acting Deputy Attorney General -- the #2 man, who runs the DOJ on a day-to-day basis.

Shortly thereafter all members of the US House and Senate received faxed documents about the Traficant case, including multiple sworn accusations of Morford witness tampering (such as collusion with Atty John Nassikas to pressure Detore to lie about Traficant).

Congress then held a rush pre-Xmas committee meeting to endorse AG Michael Mukasey's normination of judge/law professor Mark Filip to replace Morford.

Morford quietly left the DOJ in early 2008, without being interrogated by Congress about the sworn C-SPAN televised testimony about prosecutorial misconduct in the Traficant case (Senate confirmation is required for permanent appointment as Deputy AG).

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11iq256(4 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

careful people i say the "mob" helps your community more than you realize.they usually employ local labor and the company you work for probably has some ties ,one way or the other,with these heads of syndicate.dont forget,the "mob" was created to take care of their own "neighborhood family" which included more than just italians or jews.if you were a loyal and trusted member you were protected.(had employment,not messed with etc.)and all you had to do was buy from local retailers.sounds good to me!!!

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12Eliot_Ness(12 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

In re: "The Mob" ... A chi dai il dito si prende anche il braccio.

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13iq256(4 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

i only know a little italian,but i have heard that phrase before.words to live by.loyalty and respect have been driven into me since birth.but then again im just a dumb ol' farm boy!

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14Eliot_Ness(12 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Words to fear, really.

Literally, "To whom you give a finger, grabs also the arm." ... meaning, "If you give them an inch, they'll take a mile."

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15xytown(63 comments)posted 7 years, 6 months ago

Yeah the MOB really helped Ytown prosper and grow that's why it's in the shape it's in today!

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