Traficant to Be Released From Prison Wednesday

Posted September 1, 2009 at 1:14pm

Former Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) is scheduled to be released from federal prison Wednesday after serving more than seven years for his 2002 corruption conviction, the Associated Press reported.

Traficant was convicted in April 2002 on 11 corruption counts, including forcing his Congressional staff to kick back a portion of their paychecks in cash and providing political assistance to contractors in exchange for gifts and free labor at his home and on his houseboat. Though Traficant was not an attorney, he served as his own defense counsel during the trail.

A contractor in his district testified during the trial that he dropped a lawsuit against Traficant for an unpaid $13,000 construction bill in exchange for Traficant’s assistance. “We were basically going to sue a Congressman, or for $13,000, we were going to own him,— the contractor testified.

After his conviction, Traficant was expelled from the House.

The nine-term Congressman had been a colorful figure on Capitol Hill, frequently dressed in outdated clothing from the 1970s, wearing what appeared to be a ragged toupee and shouting “Beam me up!— from the House floor during one-minute speeches. He supported Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) for Speaker in 2001, and House Democrats retaliated by stripping him of all his committee assignments.

In 1983, Traficant, then Mahoning County sheriff, was charged with accepting bribes from mobsters, but serving as his own lawyer, he won acquittal in that case. He later claimed that the second case against him was the work of a vindictive Justice Department, angry that he had beaten them pro se in the first case.