The above mugshot of former House of Representatives member James Traficant was taken in July 2002 at Summit County Jail, where he was awaiting transfer to a federal prison. In April of 2002, a jury of ten men and two women found the conservative Democrat from Youngstown, Ohio, guilty on ten felony charges including bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion. Traficant vowed, “I will not resign and I will appeal,” but during a late night session, the House of Representatives voted to expel him 420 to one. Traficant’s claims that the charges were part of a vendetta stemming from his 1983 acquittal on charges of corruption when he served as Sheriff of Mahoning County fell on his colleagues’ deaf ears.
Throughout his political career, both as Sheriff from 1981 to 1985 and in the House of Representatives from 1985 until 2002, Traficant was known for his loud, abrasive, and combative style. That pugnacious style made him a hero to his constituents when he chose to defend himself from a federal indictment in 1983, providing him with a platform for his campaign for Congress. But in 2002, when he chose once again to defend himself, his truculence did him no favors. He berated witnesses, mocked the prosecution, and accused the judge of bias, all to no avail. As promised, Traficant ran for re-election from federal prison, earning 15% of the vote in his district, but losing to a former aide. Traficant’s eight year sentence is due to end in September 2009.