- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 31, 2002

CLEVELAND (AP) Expelled from Congress a week ago, an unrepentant James A. Traficant Jr. was sentenced to eight years behind bars for corruption yesterday and made it clear he intends to run for re-election from his prison cell and expects to win.
The 61-year-old former House member was immediately led off to jail in handcuffs after the judge refused to let him remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction on charges of taking bribes and kickbacks.
"Quite frankly, I expect to be re-elected," the pugnacious former congressman told U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells after she imposed sentence.
The judge gave Traficant a longer sentence than the minimum 7 years prosecutors had requested, saying he had undermined respect for the government and lied to distract attention from the charges against him.
The judge also fined him $150,000 in addition to the $96,000 the jury required him to forfeit in ill-gotten gains.
"To protect a junkyard full of deceit and corruption and greed, you fought like a junkyard dog," Judge Wells said, borrowing Traficant's own words.
Traficant a Democrat known on Capitol Hill for his arm-waving rants on the House floor, his loud '70s-style suits and bell-bottom pants, and his thatch of unruly gray hair and shaggy sideburns was unrepentant: "I committed no crime. I regret nothing that I said."
He turned to one of the prosecutors and repeated his oft-stated claim of witness intimidation. "You should be ashamed of yourself, not me," he said.
Defiant throughout his trial and ethics hearings in Congress, Traficant filed earlier this year to run for a 10th term in November as an independent, despite the threat of imprisonment and expulsion.
Traficant said yesterday he plans to run for re-election from jail, and he asked the judge to select a prison in Ohio to make sure he is still eligible to run in the state. He said that if he wins, he will try to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and create an advisory board to oversee the Justice Department.
Traficant was found guilty of bribery, tax evasion and racketeering on April 11 after a 2-month trial in which he mounted a loud, sometimes comic and frequently vulgar defense, serving as his own lawyer without benefit of a law degree.
He was found guilty of requiring staff members to do personal chores for him and kick back a portion of their paychecks. He also was convicted of accepting cash and various favors from businessmen who were seeking his help in Washington.
Last Wednesday, he was expelled from the House in a 420-1 vote, with only Democratic California Rep. Gary A. Condit, whose career was ended by his connection to slain intern Chandra Levy, siding with Traficant. Traficant became only the second congressman expelled since the end of the Civil War.
Judge Wells rejected Traficant's argument that he should not be sanctioned because he already has been punished by expulsion from the House. Traficant had argued that a prison sentence would amount to double jeopardy, or being punished twice for the same crime. Judge Wells agreed that expulsion is not criminal punishment.
At his sentencing, Traficant complained that the judge did not allow him to argue at his trial that the government has a vendetta against him. "Why did you tie my hands behind my back?" he asked.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to deny Traficant bail, saying he had bragged that he would escape from prison and had threatened federal agents in the case.

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