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Traficant arrives at federal prison

Expelled lawmaker faces eight years behind bars

Former Rep. James Traficant makes a point at his July ethics hearing.
Former Rep. James Traficant makes a point at his July ethics hearing.  

WHITE DEER, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- James Traficant, the outspoken former congressman from Ohio convicted on 10 corruption charges of bribery, tax evasion and racketeering, arrived Monday at federal prison -- two weeks after his colleagues expelled him from Congress.

Traficant, 61, was brought to the Federal Correctional Institution Allenwood from the Summit County Jail in Akron, Ohio, by federal marshals. He arrived at 2:45 p.m., the prison said in a statement.

The nine-term Ohio representative became the second member of Congress to be kicked out since the Civil War after his House colleagues two weeks ago voted 420-1 to expel him.

The lone vote against expulsion came from Rep. Gary Condit, D-California., who was caught up in a public quagmire after last year's disappearance of former Washington intern Chandra Levy. Her remains were found in a city park this summer, but no suspects have been named in what police are treating as a homicide investigation.

Traficant was convicted in Ohio of the federal corruption charges. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, with three years of supervised release following that.

Traficant has maintained his innocence throughout the case. He portrayed himself as the victim of a government vendetta and a vicious press "that has beat the hell out of me for years."

"If I am to be expelled under these circumstances, then God save the republic and God save the Constitution," he said at a congressional hearing last month.

He even warned lawmakers not to expel him because, "I will break out of prison and I'll make a necktie out of some these bureaucrats."

The prison where Traficant is being housed is an all-male, low-security facility with about 1,375 inmates. It's in central Pennsylvania, about 200 miles north of Washington.

Traficant had asked to be placed in a federal prison in Ohio, saying he plans to campaign from his cell in an effort to be voted back into Congress. He is on the ballot as an independent candidate for the 17th District of Ohio, but the U.S. Constitution requires that a candidate be an inhabitant of the state on the date of the election in order to be eligible for office.

In addition, even if Traficant were elected, U.S. Bureau of Prisons rules would made it difficult or impossible for him to conduct congressional business.

A bureau official confirmed that Traficant, who once proclaimed that he cut his hair with a weed whacker, will not be able to wear his toupee while he is incarcerated.

Traficant was convicted of numerous felonies, including conspiracy to defraud, bribery, illegal gratuity, obstruction of justice, filing a false tax return and conspiracy under the RICO, or racketeering, statutes.

The only other House member to be kicked out since the Civil War was Michael Myers, a Pennsylvania Democrat who was expelled in 1980 for accepting money from undercover FBI agents.




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