CLEVELAND – U.S. Rep. James Traficant Jr. told a federal judge Friday he opposes a government motion that a jury for his upcoming trial be selected without their names or addresses being known.
At a pretrial hearing to clarify procedural issues, Traficant said he had trouble understanding why prospective jurors should have anonymity.
U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells said she will rule on the procedure later. With an anonymous jury selection, the potential jurors would be identified only by an assigned number, she said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Morford, the lead prosecutor in the case, said the procedure would eliminate any possible or perceived federal advantage in getting background about jurors.
In most jury selections, lawyers are aware of the names and addresses of prospective jurors. The government motion would keep that information from the judge and both sides in Traficant's case.
Jury selection is to start Feb. 4.
Traficant, a Youngstown Democrat, is indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges. The government claims he accepted gifts and favors in exchange for using his political influence.
Traficant, who is not a lawyer but is representing himself, said having names of potential jurors will help him determine ethnicity and religion, which is important in jury selection in a trial in Cleveland.
He assisted the family of John Demjanjuk, a suburban Cleveland man who beat a conviction and death sentence in Israel as Nazi war criminal "Ivan the Terrible."
"It's true, especially in the Cleveland area, that there are people who hold it against me for helping Demjanjuk," he said.
Traficant also asked for any electronic surveillance evidence, whether or not it may be used against him, so he can have sufficient time to evaluate it before his trial. Morford said the government has met its requirements to provide Traficant with evidence.
Meanwhile, two Traficant associates were indicted Friday. Henry A. DiBlasio, a former administrative assistant on Traficant's staff, was charged with perjury for lying to the grand jury that investigated Traficant. The indictment alleges DiBlasio lied when he denied making cash payoffs to Traficant.
Former Youngstown construction business owner Bernard J. "Pete" Bucheit was charged with conspiracy, perjury before a grand jury and giving an unlawful gratuity to Traficant.
DiBlasio could not be reached for comment. He has an unpublished number in Youngstown.
Bucheit, contacted by telephone at his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., said he did not know of the indictment and could not comment on it.
After the pretrial hearing, Traficant said he had not seen the indictments against DiBlasio and Bucheit.
"They (federal prosecutors) continue to do these things late in the game with a judge who presses the timetable," he said.