Former Ohio Rep. James Traficant — a Democrat perhaps best known for his wild hair and overuse of the Star Trek phrase “Beam me up” — was released from prison this morning after serving a seven-year sentence on corruption charges.
The AP reported that, upon his release, Traficant “had his famously wild hair pulled back.”
Traficant was sent to prison in 2002 after being convicted of federal racketeering, bribery and fraud charges. Traficant took bribes and kickbacks from businessmen and members of his own staff. He was only the second congressman expelled from the U.S. House since the Civil War.
How Traficant will be received when he returns to Ohio from the Minnesota prison where he was held is an open question. Though the economically struggling Youngstown that Traficant represented for nine terms benefited from his time in Congress, the town seems split on whether Traficant should return home a hero or goat.
The Vindicator reports that about 1,000 tickets have been sold to a Sunday party celebrating the ex-rep’s release, and one former staffer tied yellow ribbons around her trees in anticipation of her old boss’s release.
Others aren’t quite so happy. The man who was the county Democratic Party chair from 1999 to 2002 told The Vindicator that the party “is a slap in the face” to his community, adding that it’s “a little deplorable” and that he’s “kind of appalled.” And last month, a planned “Traficant Release Night” was canceled by the local Single-A Cleveland Indians ballclub after residents complained.
We’ll be watching to see how Traficant’s received — and how his hair looks.