Traficant wants 44 documents to be prohibited

The congressman wants a judge to have a hearing to review all documents the government intends to use against him.
CLEVELAND -- U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. wants the judge overseeing his criminal case to forbid federal prosecutors from using 44 documents it obtained from third parties as evidence against him.
In a motion filed Monday, Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, wrote that he objects to the use of the evidence based on congressional immunity found in the Speech or Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The congressman also wants U.S. Court Judge Lesley Brooks Wells to have a hearing to review all the documents the government wants to use at his trial to determine if they violate that clause.
Judge Wells referred Traficant's motion to U.S. Magistrate Judge William H. Baughman Jr., who is to consider it and file a report and recommendation for its disposition to Judge Wells.
The clause specifies that members of Congress "shall not be questioned in any other place" for "any speech or debate in either House," which has helped protect them from being prosecuted or sued for what they do in their official capacities.
Federal prosecutors have until Oct. 29 to reply to Traficant's motion.
August motion: Traficant filed a motion Aug. 20 seeking to suppress evidence he claims is privileged under the clause, but he did not give specifics. Judge Wells ordered Traficant to redo the motion and give specifics by Monday.
The judge wrote that if he could not do that, she would "seriously consider the appointment of stand-by counsel to ensure that defendant Traficant has available to him the professional assistance needed to comply with this order."
Judge Wells has strongly recommended to the congressman in the past that he obtain legal counsel, and federal prosecutors have asked the judge to appoint an attorney to assist the congressman.
Traficant, a nonlawyer who is defending himself, has repeatedly said he has no interest in using the services of an attorney.
Monday's motion was essentially the same one Traficant filed Aug. 20 except he listed the 44 documents he cites as being privileged.
Cafaro company: All the documents deal with Traficant's attempts to assist USAerospace, a Virginia-based company -- owned by J.J. Cafaro, a prominent Mahoning Valley property developer -- seeking to provide laser-guidance systems to the federal government.
The documents are primarily faxes and letters between USAerospace officials and Traficant staffers, and letters written by Traficant to federal officials on behalf of Cafaro's company.
"All of these documents occurred in the regular and customary court of the legislative process and/or into the motivation for those acts and/or an integral part of the deliberate and communicative processes by which members of Congress participate in committee or other congressional proceedings," Traficant wrote.
The government accuses Traficant of accepting about $40,000 for improvements and a down payment on the purchase of his house boat, and a generator and welder for the boat from Cafaro's company, USAerospace Group, in exchange for lobbying on behalf of the business.
Cafaro has pleaded guilty to providing Traficant with an illegal gratuity and will testify against the congressman. Traficant's trial on 10 counts including bribery, racketeering and tax evasion is set to start Feb. 4.