Traficant Seeks to Stop Sentence
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CLEVELAND (AP) _ Former Rep. James A. Traficant filed court papers Monday seeking to block a judge from sentencing him on federal corruption charges, arguing the House of Representatives has already punished him by expelling him.
The former Ohio congressman was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, and federal prosecutors have asked the judge to send him to prison for at least 7 1/4 years.
But in a motion filed Monday, Traficant argued that any sentence handed down by the judge would amount to punishing him twice for the same offense, a violation of the Constitution’s protection against ``double jeopardy.″
The nine-term Youngstown Democrat was convicted in April of 10 federal bribery, racketeering and tax evasion charges. He was expelled last week by his congressional colleagues on the recommendation of the House ethics committee.
``It is clear that Mr. Traficant has been subjected to two criminal proceedings,″ his motion states. ``The decision of Congress to proceed to expel Mr. Traficant in advance of sentencing now precludes the same sovereign (government) from imposing a second sentence.″
Earlier Monday, the judge dismissed Traficant’s request for a new trial.
Last week, Traficant filed motions arguing the testimony of Virginia business executive Richard Detore before the House ethics committee raised questions about the conduct of prosecutors.
Detore, who is accused by the government of funneling bribes from his company to Traficant, didn’t testify during Traficant’s trial. Before the ethics committee, he said government prosecutors tried to pressure him into lying about Traficant so they could convict the congressman.
U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells said Monday that Detore’s testimony doesn’t amount to new evidence because Traficant made a tape recording of Detore saying the same thing a year ago, and could have called him to testify as a defense witness.