AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Ex-congressman James A. Traficant Jr.'s famous mop-top is a rug.

Some people thought the hair was too unruly to be a toupee. But Sheriff Drew Alexander said the newly sentenced Traficant (pictured, above) had to remove the hairpiece this week during a routine search while being booked into the Summit County Jail.

"I didn't know it was a hairpiece," Alexander said Thursday.

He said his deputies uncovered the long-kept secret.

"They run their fingers through the hair of all inmates to make sure there is no contraband," Alexander said.

Traficant, 61, was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in federal prison for corruption. He was immediately led off to jail in handcuffs after the judge refused to let him remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction.

The former representative from Youngstown, who was expelled by the House last week, is being held temporarily in the jail while awaiting assignment to a federal prison.

Alexander said Traficant was allowed to keep the toupee in his cell and jail personnel didn't require him to remove it for his booking photo.

But federal prisoners aren't allowed to wear toupees, so Traficant must give it up when he's sent to federal prison soon, said Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley.

Traficant was assigned inmate number 113904, according to booking paperwork at the jail. He described his occupation as an "unemployed congressman/sheriff."

"According to my deputes he's been a gentlemen, very polite, upbeat," Alexander said. "He's been very cordial -- no problems at all."

Traficant, who spurned use of an attorney during his trial in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, included two lawyers, Mark Colucci and Percy Squire, on his list of relatives, friends and associates.

Traficant represented the Youngstown area in Congress from 1984 until this year. He was convicted in April on 10 counts, including bribery, racketeering and tax evasion.

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