Published April 16, 2006
Mahoning Valley Atty. David Betras has threatened to sue journalists, among others, if they persist in mischaracterizing Capri Cafaro's role in the James A. Traficant Jr. corruption scandal. At issue is Cafaro's sworn testimony in Richard Detore's case and whether she asked for immunity from prosecution. Cafaro did not seek immunity, Betras says, but it was granted by federal prosecutors
The feds were attempting to show that Detore, who was chief engineer for USAerospace, a Virigina-based company owned by Capri Cafaro's father, J.J. Cafaro, was in cahoots with Traficant in the former 17th District congressman's bribe-taking scheme. Detore was acquitted of all charges.
Capri Cafaro was president of USAerospace.
Traficant, in a separate trial, was found guilty of 10 criminal charges, including rackeetering, bribery and tax evasion and is serving an eight-year prison sentence. Testifying against him was J.J. Cafaro, an executive with the Cafaro Co., one of the nation's leading shopping center developers. Cafaro said under oath that he gave Traficant cash and other things of value in an attempt to secure a federal contract for USAerospace.
J.J. Cafaro was convicted of a federal crime that amounts to bribery, but never served a day behind bars.
While Betras is attempting to silence Capri Cafaro's detractors, journalists should not back down when it comes to asking pointed questions of the candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 13 Congressional District and her lawyer.
The first question, directed at the candidate, should be this: Did you not take into consideration the fact that immunity from prosecution for testifying leads the public to conclude that you have something to be worried about?
And for Cafaro and Betras this question: Given that government corruption, especially on the federal and state levels, has reached epidemic proportions, shouldn't individuals who bribe government officials be required to serve time in prison for their criminal behavior?
On the campaign trail, reporters who are covering the 13th District Congressional race should ask Capri Cafaro this question: Do you believe your father, J.J., should have been imprisoned for his crime of bribing a member of Congress?