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Look at what Traficant swept under the rug

Ex-congressman awaits transfer to federal facility

James Traficant
James Traficant  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- His hair may be wild, but it's not all real.

Ex-congressman James Traficant was asked to remove his toupee when he was booked into the Summit County Jail in Akron, Ohio, Tuesday afternoon, according to the jail commander, Maj. Charles Pongracz.

Traficant was sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted on 10 federal corruption charges of bribery, tax evasion and racketeering. The jail is a temporary stop on his way to a federal prison.

Pongracz says Traficant wears a "small hair piece," not a piece that fully covers his head. Jail rules require that toupees be removed.

"For security reasons, we have to check for contraband and weapons," Pongracz said.

However, jail officials allowed Traficant to wear the toupee while his mug shot was taken.

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Pongracz said Traficant is allowed to keep the hair piece in his cell with him and wear it if he likes. That will not be the case when he's transferred to a federal facility.

"By bureau of prisons policy, all inmates are prohibited from wearing wigs or hair pieces," said Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley.

As of Thursday morning, Traficant remained at the Summit County jail, awaiting the arrival of federal marshals who will transfer him to a federal prison.

Pongracz said he had visited Traficant Thursday morning and the former congressman was in good spirits.

"He's just as flamboyant as ever," Pongracz said. "He's been very good to everyone here."

Traficant could be transferred to the federal facility at any time. Billingsley said the Bureau of Prisons will not discuss transfers until after they occur.

Traficant has asked to be transferred to the only federal prison in the state of Ohio. The Federal Correctional Institution at Elkton is a low- or minimum-security male facility south of Traficant's hometown of Youngstown.

Traficant could also be transferred to a facility out of state, Billingsley said. The location could end up affecting Traficant's political ambitions.

Traficant is still on the ballot as an independent candidate for the 17th District of Ohio, and has vowed to campaign from his jail cell. But the U.S. Constitution requires that a candidate be a inhabitant of the state on the date of the election in order to be eligible for office.

If the local county board of elections decides to remove Traficant from the ballot, some legal analysts have suggested he could challenge that decision. Traficant, analysts suggest, could claim he remains a permanent resident of the state of Ohio because he maintains a home address there.

That legal question could land Traficant back in a courtroom.




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