Ex-Ohio Congressman Traficant Freed From Prison
(AP Photo/Craig Lassig) Former Ohio congressman Jim Traficant, left, is released from federal prison in Rochester, Minn., Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009. Democrat Traficant is ending a seven-year federal prison stay for accepting bribes and other corruption ch
NOMAAN MERCHANT | The Associated Press via YellowBrix
September 03, 2009
ROCHESTER, Minn. – Former Ohio Rep. James Traficant walked out of a Minnesota prison Wednesday morning after serving a seven-year sentence for bribery and racketeering.
The nine-term Democrat from Youngstown left the Federal Medical Center in Rochester and stepped into a waiting cab.
Traficant, who wore a gray T-shirt, white shorts, white knee-high socks and had his famously wild hair pulled back, ignored a reporter’s shouted question.
He faces three years of probation. He hasn’t said whether he will retire or try to return to public life.
Traficant, 68, was one of Congress’ most colorful members, known for his hair and his penchant for Star Trek references, including brief floor speeches typically punctuated with the phrase, “Beam me up.”
He was convicted in a raucous trial in 2002 of bribery and racketeering for accepting bribes from businessmen and taking kickbacks from staff members. He then was expelled from Congress, only the second House member since the Civil War to be ousted for unethical conduct.
Traficant was transferred in 2004 to the Rochester facility, which provides specialized medical services to inmates.
His three years of probation will include a requirement to report regularly to a probation officer, be subject to unannounced home visits and get permission before traveling outside northern Ohio.
Economically depressed Youngstown was a beneficiary of Traficant’s time in Congress, but it wasn’t clear what kind of reception he would get.
Some residents planned a welcoming party Sunday for Traficant’s return, selling $20 tickets for a bash with a suggested dress code of skinny ties, denim suits and bell-bottom pants — all part of his trademark style.
Tony Trolio, a longtime Traficant friend, has sold as many as 50 “Welcome Home Jimbo” T-shirts and sweatshirts every day for a week at his Youngstown-area store, and about 900 since April. He organized the welcoming party and has sold about 1,150 tickets.
Traficant hasn’t indicated if he will attend, but Trolio said he hopes that he does.