Ex-Traficant aide guilty of theft

YOUNGSTOWN — A former aide and ardent supporter of the late U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. will be sentenced in January after admitting to stealing more than $100,000 from an elderly woman with dementia.

Linda Kovachik, 70, of Flagler Lane, Youngstown, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft Thursday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

She will be sentenced Jan. 18 by Common Pleas Court Judge Anthony M. D’Apolito, according to court records.

She originally faced four other counts of forgery, also felony charges, but they were dismissed in a plea deal because, according to Mahoning County prosecutors, Kovachik cooperated in a civil lawsuit and helped the woman, 76, recover money from a bank.

Prosecutors say they’ll recommend that Kovachik be sent to prison.

Police said Kovachik befriended the woman from Canfield at church and began helping her after the woman had a falling out with her three children.

Kovachik worked for Traficant from 1985 until 1990 and from 2000 until his expulsion from Congress in 2002.

The Youngstown-area Democrat served seven years in federal prison after being convicted of bribery charges in 2002. Before that, he served 17 years in Congress, winning re-election eight times without serious competition.

Kovachik hung ribbons from Traficant’s home to welcome him after his release from prison and supported his bid for the 17th U.S. Congressional District seat as a nonparty candidate in 2010.

Traficant died in 2014 at his farm outside of Youngstown after a tractor tipped over on him.