Traficant Hires Lawyers For His Appeal

By PAUL SINGER, Associated Press Writer

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., who insisted on defending himself during his corruption trial, has hired two lawyers to assist with his appeal.

Traficant (pictured, right) said on Thursday that he has picked Columbus, Ohio, lawyers Percy Squire and Lloyd Pierre-Louis as co-counsel for his appeal, but the congressman said he will continue to lead the defense team.

Pierre-Louis would not comment about the case, other than to say that he is working for Traficant without pay. Squire did not return a call seeking comment.

Traficant, a Youngstown Democrat, refused to hire a lawyer for his trial, saying an attorney could be intimidated by the U.S. attorney's office.

Throughout the 10-week trial in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Traficant struggled with courtroom procedures and grew frustrated as the judge declared much of his evidence inadmissible.

Traficant was found guilty of all 10 counts against him April 11, including accepting bribes and gifts from businessmen in exchange for lobbying state and federal regulators on their behalf.

The congressman also required some staff members to pay him a portion of their salaries and others to work at his farm on government time, the jury concluded.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 23. Traficant faces a maximum possible penalty of 63 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines he is likely to get less than 20 years.

Traficant filed a motion Monday asking that the verdict be overturned and that he be granted a new trial.

But he said Thursday that he does not expect that motion to be granted.

Squire and Pierre-Louis prepared the legal argument for a portion of Monday's motion.

Squire also appeared as a witness in Traficant's defense. Squire testified that he was with Traficant at a meeting in Youngstown State University in November 1998, and did not see Traficant leave the meeting with businessman John J. Cafaro.

Cafaro testified that he left the meeting with Traficant and gave the congressman $13,000 in cash to help repair his houseboat.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)