Thursday, March 07, 2002

Contractor says he gave Traficant a $2,400 bribe

The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — A Youngstown paving contractor testified Wednesday that he gave U.S. Rep. James Traficant a $2,400 cash bribe.

        James Sabatine, former owner of Hardrive Paving and Construction Co., said he paid Mr. Traficant in exchange for Mr. Traficant's help in setting up a meeting with a railroad with which Mr. Sabatine wanted to do business.

        Outside the courthouse Wednesday evening, Mr. Traficant said “Mr. Sabatine is lying.”

        Mr. Traficant, a nine-term Democrat from northeast Ohio, is charged with helping businessmen in exchange for gifts and free labor and taking money and free labor from staff members.

        Mr. Traficant could be sentenced up to 63 years in prison and could face expulsion from the House if convicted.

        Rufus Dowe, a regional executive with Norfolk Southern Corp., testified he attended an August 1998 meeting at Mr. Traficant's invitation with the congressman and Mr. Sabatine to discuss Mr. Sabatine's need for low-cost limestone. Mr. Dowe said the railroad did not end up signing a deal with Mr. Sabatine.

        But Mr. Sabatine said that immediately after the meeting, Mr. Traficant took him to the horse farm and began discussing chores that needed to be done.

        Mr. Sabatine said he knew Mr. Traficant wanted the chores done for free.


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