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Traficant Relocated for Unspecified Treatment

Former Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) was transferred last week to a federal prison hospital in Rochester, Minn., but Federal Bureau of Prison officials are not saying what sort of medical condition prompted his relocation.

Dan Dunn, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, also did not speculate about how long the 63-year-old former lawmaker is expected to be at the Minnesota facility.

“How long he’d be [in Rochester] is dependent on the outcome of the medical care he’d be receiving there,” Dunn said. The move was first reported last week by The Vindicator, a newspaper in Youngstown, Ohio.

Traficant, who represented a Youngstown-based district for more than 17 years, was convicted in 2002 of racketeering, bribery and tax evasion and sentenced to eight years in prison. He had been incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ray Brook, N.Y., since March 11 and before that was housed at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution in White Deer, Pa.

Traficant’s current facility, the Federal Medical Center, once served as a Minnesota state mental health facility but now takes inmates with both physical and mental ailments. It was purchased by the Bureau of Prisons in 1984.

Located about an hour and a half from Minneapolis, it now houses approximately 800 offenders — most of them in low-security — according to a Justice Department brochure that describes a predoctoral psychology internship at the institution.

According to the brochure, inmates at FMC are housed in one of three units. The Work Cadre Unit holds about 192 individuals who are assigned jobs throughout the facility, while the Mental Health Unit has a capacity of about 132. The Medical/Surgical Unit, which occupies five floors in three different buildings, can hold up to 333 prisoners.

Inmates in the Medical/Surgical unit are treated for everything from liver disease and cancer to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other illnesses, according to the Justice pamphlet.

FMC Rochester is one of six federal prisons with advanced medical facilities but is considered one of the more desirable corrections hospitals because of its close proximity to the Mayo Medical Center, which includes the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic doctors and other medical personnel frequently visit and provide consultations to incarcerated patients.

Amenities at the 53-acre, fenced facility include a basketball court, jogging path, winter ice rink as well as a recreation center complete with big screen TV, ping-pong, billiards and workout equipment, according to The Detroit News, which chronicled the 12-month stay of former Sotheby Chairman A. Alfred Taubman following his conviction for price-fixing at the celebrated auction house.

Traficant is slated for release on Aug. 10, 2009. His release date has been extended by 24 days because of bad behavior behind bars, which included being placed in lock-down isolation for refusing to work in the kitchen.

In a related development, Traficant’s lawyer, Richard Kerger, is still fighting to overturn Traficant’s conviction, asking that the high court review the decision of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld Traficant’s conviction in Cleveland.

Kerger, who is scheduled to appear at the Supreme Court for a conference discussion on Jan. 7, told the Vindicator he has not seen his client “since he moved up north.”

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