September 2nd, 2009
04:40 PM ET
13 years ago

Hundreds of tickets sold for Traficant tribute dinner

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Traficant was released from federal custody Wednesday."]

(CNN) - He may have left federal detention quietly, but - like almost everything else about James Traficant - the former congressman's Youngstown, Ohio homecoming promises to be a little bit over-the-top, and impossible to ignore.

A special "Traficant release night"-themed home game by the area's minor league baseball team, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, was canceled after a wave of criticism.

But a welcome home banquet for Traficant - what supporters are calling "an appreciation dinner" - will be held Sunday afternoon at a local banquet hall, where a representative said the venue was expecting 1,200 guests.

One of the organizers, Tony Trolio, told CNN that 1,200 was the official capacity crowd for the event, but that roughly 765 tickets had been sold as of midweek. The agenda is slated to include musical performances - including an appearance by an Elvis impersonator - and a PowerPoint presentation chronicling highlights of Traficant's congressional career.

Trolio said Wednesday he is "90 percent sure" Traficant will attend the tribute. Traficant himself could not be reached for comment.

The nine-term Democratic congressman was released Wednesday after serving just over seven years in federal prison for charges that included racketeering, obstruction of justice, tax evasion and bribery.

Trolio, who owns a t-shirt store in Traficant's hometown of Poland, Ohio, told CNN later in the day he'd been seeing a major surge in demand for one of his star products: a shirt bearing the former congressman's likeness under the legend "Welcome Home, Jimbo."

The daily sales pace for the shirts, which debuted earlier this year, recently increased tenfold - from just over 5 to around 50 per day, according to Trolio. "We're probably at about 900 (sold) at this point," he told CNN Wednesday. "It really picked up the last two weeks."

Filed under: James Traficant
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Susan

    He did serve his time...unlike Libby. But he is no hero. Next thing you know he'll be teaching an ethics class at Youngstown State.

    September 2, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. Willy Brown

    Hey look it's the new White House Chief Staff ready to work for "The One".

    September 2, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  3. KJ

    These people are treating him like a hero! He is a felon.

    September 2, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
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