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Celebration ‘is a slap in the face’



Published: Tue, September 1, 2009 @ 12:05 a.m.

photo

A recent photo of former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. He is to be released from federal prison Sept. 2.

Supporters are ‘trying to make him out to be some kind of hero coming back from war,’ former Mahoning Democratic chairman David Ditzler says.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN — Critics of James A. Traficant Jr. say the ex-congressman’s release from prison and a party welcoming him home make it appear as though the Mahoning Valley embraces political corruption.

Traficant is to be released Wednesday from federal prison after serving a little more than seven years for racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

About 1,000 tickets have been sold to an event Sunday at Mr. Anthony’s banquet hall in Boardman to celebrate Traficant’s release.

“They’re trying to make him out to be some kind of hero coming back from war,” said Austintown Trustee David Ditzler.

Ditzler was Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman from 1999 to 2002, relinquishing the position a few months before a federal court found Traficant guilty of all 10 felony charges he faced.

“The party is a slap in the face to the Valley,” Ditzler said. “It’s a little deplorable. I’m kind of appalled that there would be such an event.”

During Traficant’s seven-year absence, the Valley’s image has “improved dramatically,” Ditzler said.

He points to U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, who replaced Traficant in Congress, as being a leader and someone who’s helped restore the area’s longtime tainted reputation.

“This is not the time for our community to embarrass ourselves nationally” with an event to celebrate Traficant’s release from prison, said state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th.

“Honoring him in any way, shape or form doesn’t do the community any good,” said Hagan, who lost the 2000 Democratic primary for a congressional seat to Traficant.

Despite being found guilty on all counts, Traficant has “never admitted guilt or apologized to his supporters or our community,” Hagan added.

Traficant was also the fifth member of the U.S. House to be expelled, and only the second since the Civil War.

“I’m struck by the fact that some people feel all politicians are guilty of some form of corruption,” Hagan said. “That’s a slap in the face of those, like myself, who have integrity. Not all of us are corrupt. [But politicians are labeled that way] when you consider people who commit crimes to be heroes.”

The welcome-home event for Traficant, who isn’t expected to attend, though organizers invited him, will bring “national embarrassment” to the area, Hagan said.

“He served his sentence, but he hasn’t paid a debt to this community,” Hagan said of Traficant. “He owes an apology to this community and to say he did wrong.”

Traficant has never acknowledged his guilt. During his sentencing in July 2002, Traficant insisted he did nothing illegal.

Tom Humphries, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s president and chief executive officer, recently criticized the upcoming Traficant celebration in a letter that appeared in Sunday’s edition of The Vindicator.

Humphries also criticized Traficant.

“He is a convicted felon, someone who brought shame and ridicule to his office and to his community,” Humphries wrote.

Richard J. Billak, chief executive officer of the Community Corrections Association, which operates a halfway house for inmates, said Traficant needs to let go of any anger he has and “appreciate his freedom.”

Traficant had the option of reporting to CCA on March 9 to finish out the remaining time on his prison sentence.

Traficant chose to stay at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn.

That decision was made because Billak testified at Traficant’s trial. Billak said he and his staff would have treated Traficant the same as any other federal inmate in the same position.

Traficant’s refusal shows he hasn’t changed much, Billak said.

As for Traficant’s return to the Valley, Billak said, “Any disgraced public official is a mark against the Valley. Hopefully he’ll be quiet and we can get past this.”

Craig S. Morford, the lead federal prosecutor in the Traficant case, didn’t return telephone calls Friday and Monday from The Vindicator seeking comment on the former congressman.

Morford is no longer a federal prosecutor. For the past year, he’s worked as the chief compliance officer at Cardinal Health, a health care technology and supply company headquartered in Dublin, Ohio.

skolnick@vindy.com

See also:Reporter receives letters from Traficant


Comments

1ytowngramma(39 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

He's just ONE that happened to be convicted and he certainly is not the only “national embarrassment” to the area. Billak and Humphries obviously need hearing aids and a visit to the eye doctors if they wish to blame Traficant for tarnishing the Mahoning Valley.

I live out of state at the present time and its amazing to me the number of people that question WHY I lived in Ytown. It's not a question that's asked because Jim Traficant is from there....but rather its well known that there is NOTHING there but poverty and crime.

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2margarita(19 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

This man has paid his debt to society, get over it already! Sounds like some politicians are worrying he will run again! Guess what, he would win again! Move over boys..the "people" are sick of you.

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3EliotNess_DC(86 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

No amigo, THIS is a "slap in the face":
http://www.c-spanarchives.org/library...
and THIS:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,5...
and next week's Fox News.

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4EliotNess_DC(86 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Morford, by the way, is the public 'legal face' of Cardinal Health, a company with LONG history of MASSIVE securities fraud.

Cardinal was judged against in a record-breaking $600 million class action securities fraud lawsuit.

Recently, Morford helped Cardinal executives get away with a $35 million fine instead of going to prison.

(Morford let Traficant perjurers get off light ... in some cases without any jail time ... for their other crimes. Material witnesses who had committed no crimes, but who refused to lie about Traficant, got indicted {Detore} or deported {Okolo}.)

Ironically, as far as the health care politicians within the Obama administration are concerned, Moford is 'sleeping with the enemy.'

Furthermore, Morford was the number two man in the much hated Bush/Gonzales Justice Department.

So the Obama administration may not rush to Morford's defense as Traficant comes out of prison with his guns blazing, perhaps seeking a new trial based upon new evidence.

The DOJ kept Okolo out of sight ["in transit"] by being 'dieseled' -- bused to something like a dozen prisons, including Baltimore's death row -- during the Traficant trial, so that Traficant couldn't find him.

Neither Okolo nor Detore testified at Traficant's trial.

As soon as Detore testified to Congress, one of the jurors loudly and publicly recanted his 'guilty' verdict. Other jurors have privately expressed their doubts.

The Traficant case isn't over by a long shot.

There is no statute of limitations for "fraud upon the court" such as perjury (J.J. and Capri Cafaro, Allen Sinclair) and witness tampering and obstruction of justice (Craig Morford, Geoffrey Mearns).

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5gotout(5 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Traficant, if he decided to run again, would be much better than the socialist pig and Obama lapdog, Ryan.

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6handyman(4 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

I may be the biggest fool around, but I still have 100% confidence in Mr. Traficant. I'd trade all the California reps, three Barney Franks and 17 Chris Dodds for ONE Jimbo

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7gotout(5 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Hey Handyman,

I live in California. AMEN to that.

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8Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Were there celebrations for former Prosecutor James A. Philomena, former Sheriff Philip Chance, former municipal judges Patrick Kerrigan and Andrew Polovischak, former county court judges Martin Emrich and Fred Bailey, and former county Engineer William Fergus and others?

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9Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

The day Traficant swung his Congressional bat and hit a wasp's nest:

http://www.dailypaul.com/node/67591

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101jimbofan(2 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Everyone knows those charges were trumped up! They don't appreciate the honesty that Traf brought to not only the valley but the nation as well!
For Ditzler you are soooo full of it and Hagan you shouldn't be such a sore loser!
Anybody who claims Jim did nothing for our valley is just burying their heads in the sand. I cant remember a time when he was called in to work with the union or whomever and resolve issues so people could get back to work.
No I don't believe we will find much of any wrong doings on his part.
Ditzler and Hagan you need to give up your attitudes and move over because BIG JIM is back!!!

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11AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Sounds as if they are afraid of Mr. Traficant's return.

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12Cassie(88 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Why don't these political figures keep their mouths shut? If Jim Traficant's friends want to give him a welcome home party, that is their business. There are people who are his friends and appreciate the many good things he did for this area. Unlike many politicians whose loyalty and friendship depend on how they will play for their re-election, there are people who are friends through thick and thin. He may not have been perfect, but he certainly did not deserve the prison sentence that he got. Every time I think of the roster of witnesses against him, I get sick--self serving disgusting human beings who were only interested in keeping their own rear ends covered because of threats by the feds to prosecute them. Jim's big mistake was in representing himself and relying on a bunch of losers for legal advice. Any good lawyer would have made mincemeat out of those witnesses--they were people who had their noses so far up Jim's rear while he was congressman and wimped out as cowards during his trial.

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13rmiman(12 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like they are scared of someone disrupting them filling their bellies at the trough.

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14Attis(922 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

America's #1 political prisoner, The Honorable James Traficant, will spend his last day in prison today. That is cause for celebration for all America, just as his unjust imprisonment was cause for shame. Some local politicos, however, have obviously forgotten how to blush.

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15Viewpoint(89 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

It is too bad that Trafiicant didn't bring a HUGE mental health facility to the Mahoning Valley instead of two courthouses. It is apparent from these postings that it would be at full occupancy.

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16najjjj(106 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the morning laugh! Traficant would probably win if he ran for election again. That is why the valley is the joke of the nation.

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17YTownProud(8 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Bobby,
We all love you buddy! So give it up! Wow! Save the shameless self-promotion for another dumb-ass. I'm not going to be the one.

He's just ONE that happened to be convicted and he certainly is not the only “national embarrassment” to the area. Billak and Humphries obviously need hearing aids and a visit to the eye doctors if they wish to blame Traficant for tarnishing the Mahoning Valley.

I live out of state at the present time and its amazing to me the number of people that question WHY I lived in Ytown. It's not a question that's asked because Jim Traficant is from there....but rather its well known that there is NOTHING there but poverty and crime.

I wanted to copy and paste YTownGramma's comment again, because even a YTownGramma knows how much better the Greater Youngstown area was with politicians like Traficant in office.

I'd take Mafia activity and a corrupt politician who got things done for the area over what we have now: "A lot of hot air"

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18YTownProud(8 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Bobby,
We all love you buddy! So give it up! Wow! Save the shameless self-promotion for another dumb-ass. I'm not going to be the one.

" He's just ONE that happened to be convicted and he certainly is not the only “national embarrassment” to the area. Billak and Humphries obviously need hearing aids and a visit to the eye doctors if they wish to blame Traficant for tarnishing the Mahoning Valley.

I live out of state at the present time and its amazing to me the number of people that question WHY I lived in Ytown. It's not a question that's asked because Jim Traficant is from there....but rather its well known that there is NOTHING there but poverty and crime. "

I wanted to copy and paste YTownGramma's comment again, because even a YTownGramma knows how much better the Greater Youngstown area was with politicians like Traficant in office.

I'd take Mafia activity and a corrupt politician who got things done for the area over what we have now: "A lot of hot air and no results!"

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19MVP(67 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

MY guess is they served a lot of koolaid at Mr. Anthony's. Some of the comments above (I'd take Mafia activity and a corrupt politician who got things done for the area over what we have now) just illustrate the irrational thoughts of Traficant's supporters. He was a loud-mouthed ineffective buffon while in congress and will always be an embarrassment to the Mahoning Valley.

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20steelerman09(111 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

The 1,000+ people that are going to Mr. Anthony's to celebrate are plain goofy. Let's go pay money for an event that Traficant won't even be attending. That's like paying money to go see Phantom of the Opera and the Phantom doesn't come out on stage. I can think of a lot better uses for my money. If I wanted to have cocktails and celebrate Jimbo's release, I could just go to any bar around, drink, eat, and discuss Traficant with the people around me. Hope the "Cool-Aid" tastes good. By the way, do you people think that big companies will want to come to a city that praises ex-convicts (because that is what he really is), people who are found guilty of tax evasion, and bribery? These companies that want to find a good place to put a company will NOT choose Youngstown because putting a company here means they will have to hire local people. Let's be fair and say 50% of the population around here support Traficant. That means this company will be hiring people that are FOR bribery, tax evasion, and admiring and backing of ex-convicts! The newspaper and talk shows are killing this area, saying the valley is "praising" Traficant. Way to keep the valley in the "National (pitiful) Spotlight."

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21EliotNess_DC(86 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

"steelerman09" is perhaps unaware that two of the jurors have publicly stated that they believe that Traficant was 'not guilty.'

Many of Traficant's "goofy" supporters have known him -- and his accusers --- all their lives, and do not take the word of J.J. and Capri Cafaro over that of Jim Traficant ... because the only evidence presented by the government was hearsay ... and in exchange for J.J.'s 'confession' that he had secretly bribed Traficant, neither J.J. nor Capri was ever prosecuted for the tax fraud and money-scrubbing whistleblown by the Cafaro Company's patent-holding Top-Secret-cleared test pilot, Richard Detore.

Me, I believe that Jim is innocent because of what happened to my backyard neighbor when he refused to lie for the prosecution: http://www.c-spanarchives.org/library...

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22MVP(67 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

He was found guilty by a jury of his peers. He was expelled from congress for ethics violations. He's a convicted felon who served 7 years in prison. And yet all I have heard from his supporters is "he is innocent" or "everybody does it". Neither is true. He is like a religous cult leader who mesmerizes the uninformed and ignorant with "I'm an outsider just like you" BS and you all continue to drink the kool-aid.

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23JD010101(137 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

The way I see it. If I remember correctly. There was a Struthers City Councilman convicted of felony drug trafficking. That person paid his dues, received a pardon from former President Clinton and remained in office. Now Jimmy has also paid his dues. Will he receive a pardon from President Barack Obama and run for valley or State public office again? We will see.

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24metrodawg(70 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

If he was still sheriff there would be less drugs in the valley.

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25SickofJimbo(140 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Well Jimbo your coming home.
Who cares, you have leached off the system your whole career. You never accomplished anything but open you big mouth and ramble. I didn't know how good we had it for the last 7 years! We didn't have to hear your ramblings and "I want my 15 minutes of fame" statements. Understand we don't care that your home, you have leached to long, nothing now be a wannabe. Stay home and drink your Kool Aid

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26MVP(67 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

DAL, if you are disgusted by people who bring negativity to the Valley then you should be puking your guts out at the thought of Traficant having a voice here again. He brought shame & ridcule to the area and is considered a joke outside the area. As for the crime rate, it's hard to assess the impact when criminals are at the helm.

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27dominoman777(57 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

the pots..calling the kettle black

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28xytown(63 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

O BOY.... THESE YOUNGSTOWNERS ARE CRAZY!!!!!

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