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No homecoming for Traficant?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Published December 13, 2008

Sybile Oelschlager of Schuyler, N.Y., an unabashed supporter of James A. Traficant Jr.'s, claimed Saturday that the former congressman-turned-federal prisoner will not be coming home in March, as was widely reported this week. Oelschlager, who shares Traficant's passion as an artist, made the claim on "The Valley's Talkin,'" an hour-long radio talk show hosted by Dr. William Binning and this writer on 1330 TALK-WGFT.

She called from her home in New York to say she had spoken to Traficant Saturday morning and that he told her he would not be checking into the Community Corrections Association's half-way house on Market Street in Youngstown in three months.

Dr. Richard Billak, head of CCA, had said early in the week that he had been contacted by federal officials, who inquired about Traficant's being housed at the facility. By March, the former congressman, convicted of 10 federal criminal charges, will have completed six years and seven months in federal prison. He was sentenced to eight years.

Oelschlager was asked why Traficant had decided not to come home. She was not able to give a clear answer, but said he wanted to complete his time behind bars. He is scheduled to be released in September and will then be placed on probation.

Veteran criminal Atty. David Betras, who studied at the feet of the late Don L. Hanni Jr., one the this area's leading criminal defense lawyers, said he was not aware of Traficant's supposed decision, but added, "If he does not want to participate in early release, prison officials cannot force him to do so." But Betras noted that only a "crazy man like Traficant" would reject an offer the leave prison early.

One reason Traficant may not want to get out of the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., is because he appears to be channeling Elvis Presley. According to  Oelschlager, Traficant is now playing the guitar (in addition to painting) and has learned six Elvis songs. (Jailhouse Rock, anyone?)


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