Former Rep. Traficant 'very critical,' lawyer says

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. James Traficant, who was convicted of bribery and racketeering and expelled from Congress, is in "very critical" condition after being injured in an accident on his farm outside of Youngstown in northeast Ohio, an attorney for his family said Thursday.

Traficant was being kept as comfortable as possible and is not conscious, attorney Heidi Hanni said. She disputed reports that he was being kept in a medically induced coma. She said he is being sedated for a number of reasons, including pain management.

"He's surrounded by family and loved ones," Hanni said.

Traficant, 73, was flown to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Youngstown on Tuesday night after a vintage tractor tipped over on him inside a barn at his family farm in Green Township. He was unconscious when firefighters lifted the tractor off him.

Police think the tractor tipped after Traficant struck a piece of farm equipment with a bar installed on the front of his 1943 Ford tractor.

In 2002, Traficant was convicted of federal bribery and racketeering charges, expelled from Congress and then sent to prison, where he served seven years.

Traficant, who represented the Youngstown area for more than 17 years, was just the second member of Congress to be expelled since the Civil War.

The barn where the accident occurred was built as a favor to Traficant. But the Youngstown businessman who had it built later billed Traficant after the congressman kept asking for more favors. They later settled on a price for the barn that was much lower than what it cost to build. The businessman testified for the government at the congressman's trial, where Traficant served as his own attorney.

Other business people in the Youngstown area did work for Traficant on the farm, and there was testimony at trial that some of his local congressional staff members were occasionally sent there to do chores.

Traficant was released from prison in September 2009 and ran as an independent for the congressional seat held by a former aide, Tim Ryan in 2010. He received 16 percent of the vote.

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