New Indictment Handed Up to Traficant

U.S. Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, faces another indictment from a federal grand jury, his 11th relating to bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

The latest count, handed up Friday, alleges that Traficant took bribes from a businessman in exchange for assistance in getting access to local railroad lines.

Traficant is also facing charges that he agreed to accept money and favors from an aerospace technology company in exchange for his support with federal officials. According to the indictment, in one instance, Traficant received an envelope containing $13,000 in cash.

Three businessmen tied to Traficant have already been convicted for their dealings with the nine-term congressmen.  James Sabatine, 49, of Canfield, Ohio, pled guilty in August to paying Traficant $2,400 in 1998 for help in getting a rail line near Sabatines' asphalt plant. He also pled guilty to failing to pay $239,000 in taxes.

John Cafaro, a multimillionaire member of a Youngstown mall-development family, and A. David Sugar, a construction company owner, also pled guilty in the investigation.  None of the men has been sentenced.

Traficant did not return calls seeking comment, but has steadfastly maintained his innocence since the first indictment last year. He argues the charges are a result of misconduct by the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office. 

Traficant, who is not a lawyer but is representing himself, filed a motion with the court Monday asking that memos and letters detailing his contacts with the Federal Aviation Administration on behalf of U.S. Aerospace Group be suppressed.

Traficant argued that the documents are protected by a constitutional provision allowing for free speech and debate by members of Congress.

The trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 4.  If he is convicted of all charges, Traficant faces penalties of more than 60 years in jail and $2 million.

Traficant has represented the Youngstown area in Congress for 18 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.