Former Ohio Congressman Jim Traficant passes away

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Former Ohio Congressman James Anthony Traficant Jr. has passed away after being critically injured in a tractor accident Tuesday.

The accident happened at Traficant's daughter's home in Greenford. He'd been listed in critical condition since. According to family spokesperson Heidi Hanni, Traficant passed away at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

The son of a truck driver, Traficant rose from the bare knuckle, backroom politics of Youngstown to become one of the most colorful and controversial politicians in America.

Traficant served nearly 18 years in Congress, beginning in 1985 and ending in disgrace in 2002.

Traficant, a former University of Pittsburgh quarterback and Mahoning County Sheriff, was known for his harsh criticism of the political establishment, including his fellow Democrats. On the floor of Congress before a vote to expel him, Traficant said, "it doesn't matter liking me, a lot of you don't like me."

The product of a working class Catholic family, Traficant had a reputation for not mincing words on controversial issues, including his opposition to abortion, and his support of accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk.

In addition to his colorful style and language, Jim Traficant will be remembered for the scandals that marred his public service.

While serving as Mahoning County Sheriff, Traficant was accused of accepting bribes from the mob, but he was acquitted after convincing a jury that he had taken the bribes as part of his own secret undercover investigation of corruption.

Traficant, who represented himself in court, would later say, "If there's anybody in America who understands the burden of proof, I'm not a lawyer, but I understand it very well."

In 2002, Traficant's political career ended when he was convicted in federal court in Cleveland, on ten corruption related charges. A federal jury found that he accepted bribes, filed false tax returns and forced his assistants to perform chores on his farm in Ohio and houseboat in Washington.

In July, 2002 the House of Representatives voted to expel him from Congress.

Traficant served seven years in federal prison, and after his release, had his own radio show on WTAM Radio. In 2010, he ran for Congress, but was soundly defeated by his former aide, Tim Ryan.

Jim Traficant is survived by his wife Patricia, and his daughters Robin and Elizabeth.

For more on Jim Traficant, click here.

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