Renegade Ohio ex-lawmaker out of prison Wednesday

YOUNGSTOWN (AP) — Renegade ex-congressman James A. Traficant Jr., who delighted in "Star Trek" references and polyester suits, is to be released Wednesday from a federal prison in Minnesota after serving seven years for corruption.

The longtime Democratic lawmaker, now 68, will return to a hometown that has ample evidence of the federal aid he landed, including a highway, second federal courthouse and an arena.

Still, he could face an uneven welcome in a city with a corrupt reputation but a new generation of leaders, including a young mayor and Traficant's congressional successor.

That reputation — more than 70 corruption convictions in a federal investigation capped by Traficant's — could mean he'll be accepted when he returns to his blue-collar hometown, said Zach Roush, 18, a Youngstown State University student.

"With Youngstown's reputation, he'll probably do real well," Roush said while walking toward campus. "We have a reputation with all the corruption and all that good stuff. It doesn't bother me as long as it doesn't affect me."

Traficant is to be released from the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., where he was transferred in 2004. Prison authorities say they will announce his release only after he has left the prison.

His three years of probation will include a requirement to report regularly to a probation officer, be subject to unannounced home visits and get permission before traveling outside northern Ohio. Traficant hasn't indicated whether he plans to work or retire, chief probation officer Greg Johnson said.

Traficant, whose wild hair contributed to an offbeat reputation, was convicted in a raucous trial in 2002 of bribery and racketeering for accepting bribes from businessmen and taking kickbacks from staff members. He then was expelled from Congress, only the second House member since the Civil War to be ousted for unethical conduct.

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