By Patricia Meade
The convicted former congressman said he would not feel safe at CCA on Market Street.
YOUNGSTOWN — The federal Bureau of Prisons, not inmate James A. Traficant Jr., decides where he goes to transition back into society.
The former congressman, through his caseworker at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., requested placement at a halfway facility in Akron or Cleveland instead of Community Corrections Association on Market Street, said Richard J. Billak, CCA chief executive officer. Traficant said he would not feel safe at CCA because Billak testified at Traficant’s racketeering trial in 2002.
In March 2002, Billak testified that Traficant interceded to get contractor Anthony Bucci, who had been at a federal prison in North Carolina in the early 1990s, transferred to CCA. He also testified about another inmate sent to CCA with Traficant’s help, David Sugar Jr.
Sugar’s father, A. David Sugar Sr., admitted that he committed perjury, obstruction of justice and witness tampering in the Traficant case, according to Vindicator files.
Traficant accepted free goods, services and labor at his horse farm from Bucci, Sugar Sr. and others and paid them with congressional favors, not cash.
Arrangements were made last month to have Traficant, 67, report to CCA on March 9 to complete his eight-year federal prison sentence, which expires Sept. 2 Then he’ll serve three years’ supervised release.
The Bureau of Prisons typically sends inmates to halfway facility up to six months before their scheduled prison release date to allow them to transition back into society and reconnect with family.
The Bureau of Prisons this week denied Traficant’s request to go to another facility, which leaves him with two options — come to CCA in March or stay in prison until September, Billak said. He expects to hear sometime this month what Traficant intends to do.
Billak said he has no role in the program at CCA and would likely have no contact with Traficant. He told prison officials that as long as Traficant does what is required at CCA, there should be no problems.
CCA has a 28-bed area for federal inmates, generally two to three to a room. An adjoining common room (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. 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.
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. The conditions include getting and keeping a job, no contraband, 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 also not allowed to be around other felons.
In April 2002, a jury in Cleveland found the nine-term Democrat 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.