Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Judge denies Traficant's delay request

The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — A federal judge has rejected U.S. Rep. James Traficant's appeal for a two-week delay in his bribery trial scheduled to begin next week.

        The Youngstown Democrat goes on trial Monday on 10 counts of accepting bribes and other corrupt activity.

        Mr. Traficant — who is not a lawyer but is defending himself — asked U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells for a 14-day extension so he could respond to government motions submitted last week.

        Judge Wells issued a one-sentence ruling Monday denying the extension.

        A final pretrial hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

        Mr. Traficant has argued he is the victim of prosecutorial misconduct and that the government has bullied witnesses into testifying against him.

        The judge also rejected Mr. Traficant's request to rule out as evidence documents from his congressional office, which the prosecution plans to use against him at trial.

        The judge rejected Mr. Traficant's contention that the documents, including letters between his chief of staff and a contractor indicted in the case, were protected congressional communications.

        Traficant spokesman Charles Straub said the congressman would have no comment.


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