Traficant Says He Will Play Taped Conversations For Ethics Committee

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. said Tuesday that he will present the House Ethics Committee taped conversations that were barred from his bribery trial by a federal judge.

Traficant (pictured, right) was convicted in April of 10 counts of bribery and racketeering. He will be sentenced June 27 in federal court in Cleveland and faces up to 63 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines he is likely to get less than 20 years.

Appearing on the CNN's "Crossfire," Traficant said he would provide the ethics committee nine tapes of conversations he had with parties involved in his trial.

Traficant claims the audiotapes prove that witnesses against him were bullied into testifying by the federal government.

U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells did not allow Traficant to play the tapes in court. She ruled the parties Traficant taped were available to testify in person, so there was no reason to play tapes of conversations they had with Traficant.

"There's a process that goes into this," Traficant said. "I am going to fight it. I have an opportunity to bring a defense."

"I had seven tapes that were not admitted that would abolish this whole case," Traficant said. "I have tapes on every one of these. They will be submitted to the ethics committee, and this is going to be a barn-burner."

A bipartisan four-member panel has been charged with reviewing in private transcripts and evidence from Traficant's trial to determine if House rules were violated.

The Youngstown Vindicator reported Tuesday that the committee already has given Traficant a list of alleged violations.

It was unclear whether the list provided to Traficant had been adopted by the panel or whether it was a preliminary copy.

Under House rules, the panel must provide Traficant with a draft statement of violations before it votes to adopt them. Once the report is adopted, Traficant would have at least 30 days to respond.

Expulsion from Congress is the most severe punishment and would require the approval of two-thirds of the 435-member House.

Traficant would have 30 minutes to argue his case.

Traficant spokesman Charlie Straub could not be reached for comment. A man answering the phone at Traficant's Canfield office would not take a message for him.

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