Traficant Sentenced To Eight Years In?Prison

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:29pm EDT

( - Former Rep. James Traficant, the maverick Ohio Democrat, was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison by a U.S. District Judge in Cleveland after being convicted in April of accepting bribes and kickbacks, and other corruption charges.

Prosecutors sought a seven-year prison term for Traficant, but Federal Judge Lesley Wells added the extra year, noting the nature of his crimes.

"You've done a lot of good in your years in Congress ... the good you have done does not excuse you of the crime you were convicted of," Wells was quoted as telling Traficant.

Wells said Traficant abused the public's trust, reduced public confidence in government, obstructed justice and took a leadership role in recruiting people to further his scheme.

Earlier, Wells had rejected Traficant's argument that he should not be imprisoned because he had already been punished by expulsion from the House. Traficant argued that a prison sentence would amount to double jeopardy or being punished twice for the same crime. Wells also denied Traficant's request for a new trial.

A reporter with WKBN in Youngstown, Ohio covering the hearing said Traficant would remain in custody at a local county jail for the time being. A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons said the bureau has yet to determine the federal prison to which Traficant will be sent to serve his sentence.

A Cleveland jury convicted Traficant in April on 10 counts of bribery, tax evasion and racketeering. He was found guilty of requiring staff members to do personal chores for him and kick back part of their paychecks to him. He was also convicted of accepting cash bribes and various favors from businessmen who sought his help while in Congress.

The convictions culminated in Traficant's expulsion last week from the House of Representatives, a move that was last undertaken during the Civil War.

Convictions, expulsion and sentencing notwithstanding, Traficant has filed to run for reelection as an independent. He faces both Democrat and Republican opposition.

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