Key Confessor In Traficant Case Gets Probation, Home Detention

By PAUL SINGER, Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - A contractor whose confession to prosecutors began the bribery and racketeering investigation of U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. was sentenced Tuesday to two years probation and six weeks home detention.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Morford said Tuesday that without the confession of contractor Anthony Bucci, Traficant's case would never have gone to trial.

Traficant (pictured, above) was convicted April 11 of ten counts of bribery, racketeering and tax evasion and faces up to 63 years in prison.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Traficant is expected to get less than 20 years in jail.

Traficant's sentencing is scheduled for June 27, but an attorney he hired Monday filed a motion Tuesday asking for a 60-day delay to study the case.

Bucci pleaded guilty in May 1999 to mail fraud and tax conspiracy charges that carried a possible sentence of up to 21 months in jail. At the time, his plea agreement did not mention cooperation against other parties.

In August 1999, Bucci told prosecutors he had been bribing Traficant.

"At the time we met with Tony Bucci we had no case open on Congressman Traficant," Morford said. Without Bucci, "there would have been no case against Traficant," he said.

Bucci ultimately testified in Traficant's trial that he forgave a $13,000 construction bill at Traficant's farm and did numerous chores and favors for Traficant in exchange for the congressman's intervention on his behalf with state and federal regulators.

Bucci admitted during the trial that his paving company routinely broke labor rules and violated construction standards, and that Traficant prevented him from being punished by state and federal officials.

Based on what Morford called Bucci's "extraordinary cooperation" in the Traficant case, U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver agreed to reduce Bucci's sentence in the tax charge to home detention and probation. Bucci was granted immunity in the bribery case for his testimony against Traficant.

Traficant, who served as his own lawyer, complained bitterly during his trial that he was being singled out for punishment while people who testified against him got immunity deals and plea bargains.

Traficant's only comment on Bucci's sentence Tuesday was, "You saw the trial."

Traficant's new attorney, Richard Hackerd, said since he was hired Monday, he needs additional time to review the trial transcript to represent Traficant at the sentencing hearing.

Hackerd said he is only representing Traficant for the sentencing and bail portions of the case. Traficant has retained two Columbus lawyers to help him prepare a motion for a new trial.

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