Traficant Trial Juror Speaks Out
This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, April 12, 2002. Click here to order the complete transcript.
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The Impact segment tonight, Congressman James Traficant of Ohio guilty of bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion. He could get 63 years in prison, and, of course, his career in Congress is over.
Joining us now from Cleveland is Jeri Zimmerman, one of the jurors who convicted Mr. Traficant who, by the way, did not want to speak with us tonight.
Miss Zimmerman, what was the main piece of evidence that put you over the top and made you vote to convict the congressman?
JERI ZIMMERMAN, TRAFICANT TRIAL JUROR: Well, Bill, there was 10 indictments, so when it came time to deliberate, we weighed the evidence very carefully for each indictment.
O'REILLY: Was there one thing that happened in the courtroom that you could give us an example that you said, Oh, man, he did it?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, the prosecution, I think, did a very good job. We saw over 50 witnesses, and they did a very thorough job. And, you know, they had the burden of proof. And we felt as a jury that they really provided us with a lot of exhibits and a lot of...
O'REILLY: All right, but let's be...
ZIMMERMAN: ... evidence.
O'REILLY: ... specific. What did he do? What did he do?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think he abused his power, to be quite frank with you. Even from the beginning, when he started talking, he innuendoed that there was the government, the CIA, the FBI out to get him, since he had a government problem in the early '80s. And he won that trial.
O'REILLY: All right. But let's again, I want to get more specific, Miss Zimmerman. Bribery, he's convicted on bribery. Who bribed him, how much money did he get?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, he was bribed by the Buccis to basically do a variety of congressional acts, favors, if you will. They were giving him workers to go work on the farm for free. He was doing above and beyond what a congressional person should do for somebody in the district, calling people from ODOT (ph), the Department of Labor, screaming at people, threatening people's jobs and livelihoods if they did not back off a company and a — that was meant — that was very corrupt. His own...
O'REILLY: All right. So there was a corrupt...
ZIMMERMAN: ... chief of staff (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
O'REILLY: ... company, they paid him, and he tried to get the investigation...
ZIMMERMAN: Right, his own chief of staff...
O'REILLY: ... squashed. Did he take cash? Did he get money? Did he take cash?
ZIMMERMAN: He allegedly...
O'REILLY: No, no, no, no allegedly...
ZIMMERMAN: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
O'REILLY: ... you convicted him.
O'REILLY: I mean, what did he take, and how much did he get?
ZIMMERMAN: He received money and, I think, though, the biggest thing was glaring was the favors, the amount of work at the farm, the amount of material goods at the time he was doing the favors.
O'REILLY: All right. Now, if he had had a lawyer, he represented himself, and by all accounts did not acquit himself very well in the courtroom. If he had had a defense attorney, a high-powered guy, could he have beaten this?
ZIMMERMAN: I don't know. I — we thought — after we deliberated, we discussed that. We discussed the fact that he represented himself. It was never something we held against him. He had a right to do it. But I — we all felt he did himself an injustice.
O'REILLY: All right. Was there a difference of opinion in the jury while deliberating? Did some people think he was innocent at first? Did you have to convince them?
ZIMMERMAN: No, we didn't really have anyone holding out. We took a lot of time to weigh the evidence carefully, follow the judge's instructions. She gave us a booklet to follow.
On the RICO counts, there were 11 charges on the RICO count, which was the 10th indictment. And we only had to convict him on two, and I think we convicted him on seven, so there were...
ZIMMERMAN: ... some things that were gray there that we didn't — we were not unanimous, so we left it alone.
O'REILLY: When you say RICO counts, that's racketeering...
O'REILLY: ... can you give us an example of something in the RICO area?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, for example, there — one of the charges that we decided not to find him guilty on was a bribery from James Sabatine (ph). This was supposedly $20,000-plus given to Congressman Traficant in his barn. And we felt there just wasn't enough evidence to corroborate this, and so that was one of the counts we just left alone.
O'REILLY: All right. One of the counts that he did do in the racketeering area?
ZIMMERMAN: Yes, was charged in the racketeering, but we did not find unanimously, so we left that alone. That was not one of the ones we — you know, we charged him guilty on.
O'REILLY: OK. But I'm still not clear. You can — you charge him seven guilty in racketeering. Give me one example of what the racketeering was, real, real clear.
ZIMMERMAN: One of the racketeering ones, for example, was the mail fraud. There was three government employees doing work out on his farm. We — I myself stated, I didn't care whether those employees worked one hour or 1,000 hours, they were being paid to be a congressional staffer, they weren't being paid to shovel horse manure.
O'REILLY: All right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), this doesn't sound like racketeering, but I guess it comes under that statute. He...
ZIMMERMAN: Well, because they were getting governmental checks through the mail and being paid.
O'REILLY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) — Oh, I see, they were getting government checks through the mail.
Now, he's sentenced June, that's...
ZIMMERMAN: June 27.
O'REILLY: What would you give him?
ZIMMERMAN: You know, that's up to Judge Wells. But I — we found him guilty. We were very confident in our decision. And I guess it will be up to Judge Wells to...
O'REILLY: You don't have any opinion on hard time, 10 years, what would you give him?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I guess — I keep hearing now through the media that he will go to some country club and probably only serve 10 or less, when he could potentially serve 63.
O'REILLY: All right, Miss Zimmerman, we thank you for helping us out tonight.
ZIMMERMAN: You're welcome.
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