Traficant Found Guilty in Corruption Trial

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

( - Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) said he accepts the verdict against him, after a federal jury in Cleveland convicted him on all ten bribery, racketeering and tax evasion counts against him. "You don't lose and complain," he commented outside the federal court in Cleveland Thursday.

Traficant, who represented himself during the trial even though he is not a lawyer, admitted, "I don't have too good a chance on appeal. I'm not well liked by the judges."

Traficant insists he's the victim of a federal conspiracy, but the jury didn't buy it. His behavior in the courtroom - arguing with the judge, shouting at prosecution witnesses, and once storming out of the courtroom -- reinforced his reputation as a boisterous, erratic, and eccentric man.

Calls for Traficant's resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives began shortly after the jury announced its verdict. Democrats in particular would like to see him go. Although Traficant is a Democrat, he often votes with Republicans. He backed Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) for the post of House Speaker last year.

Traficant faces 63 years in prison and big fines when he's sentenced on June 27. His long congressional career is also in doubt.

The House ethics committee will consider disciplinary proceedings against him, and many observers believe he'll be expelled from the House, something that has happened only once since the Civil War. Expulsion would require two-thirds vote by House members.

The 60-year-old congressman, who is in his ninth term, was convicted of accepting kickbacks from staff members as well as gifts and free labor from businessmen in exchange for political help. He also filed false tax returns.

In a statement released after the verdict came down, House Democratic Leader Dick Gerpardt said, "A Member of Congress who breaks the law betrays the public trust and brings discredit to the House of Representatives. A Member of Congress who commits bribery strikes at the heart of representative government.

"Today, a jury in Ohio has found one of our colleagues guilty of accepting bribes and breaking that trust.

"The House has a process to deal with convicted felons and I'm sure the House Ethics Committee will pursue that process expeditiously. However, in light of the gravity of the charges outlined in the guilty verdict against Mr. Traficant, I think the prudent course of action would be an immediate resignation."

See Earlier Story: Traficant To Run Again As An Independent (25 Feb. 2002)