Former Ohio Representative James Traficant Dies at 73

After being trapped under a tractor that left him in critical condition since Tuesday, the former congressman passed away Saturday.

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James A. Traficant Jr., the nine-term Ohio representative who was convicted on corruption charges in 2002, died Saturday at a hosptial in Youngstown, Ohio at the age of 73.

The former congressman had been listed in critical condition since Tuesday evening when he was found trapped under an overturned tractor at the home and farm of his daughter in Green Township.

Family spokeswoman, Heidi Hanni, confirmed Traficant's death to reporters Saturday. A former aide told reporters in Ohio that he apparently had a heart attack while driving the tractor.

A sheriff-turned-congressman, Traficant became known for his turns of phrase and unconventional style, often wearing narrow ties, cowboy boots and outdated polyester suits — but perhaps more than anything, he was known for his unmistakeable hair.

On the floor, he regularly ended his speaking time with, "Beam me up, Mr. Speaker." However, he also frequently used his time to make points rather crassly. “Let us tell it like it is,” he said in 1997. “When you hold this economy to your nosey, this economy does not smell so rosy. If there is any consolation to the American workers, I never heard of anyone committing suicide by jumping out of a basement window.”

On April 15, 2002, Traficant was convicted of taking bribes, filing false tax returns, racketeering and forcing his congressional aides to work on his family farm. Following the conviction, the House ethics committee voted to expel Traficant 420 to one, making him the second congressman to face that fate.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.