PHILADELPHIA — James Tayoun Sr., a former Philadelphia City Council member who went to federal prison for corruption and started a newspaper after his release, has died. He was 87.
That newspaper, The Public Record, announced his death on Wednesday. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee in Philadelphia, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Tayoun “just dropped over” while getting into his car in front of his house.
The son of a Lebanese immigrant, Tayoun grew up in Philadelphia, got a journalism degree from Temple University and wrote for newspapers, including the Philadelphia Daily News. He and his brother also ran a restaurant and he later served on the council and in the state Legislature.
In 1991, he was charged with racketeering, mail fraud, tax evasion and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison after pleading guilty to paying bribes to a former councilman and accepting money to introduce legislation once he won a council seat himself.
While behind bars, he wrote a how-to guide for future inmates called “Going To Prison?” and set up a 900 number that offered advice to prospective jailbirds.
His grandson David Tayoun Truscello said his grandfather wasn’t perfect but always tried to help others.
“My favorite memories were sitting on his back deck down the shore and talking everything from politics to religion, to love, and life. He was a man’s man, a role model, and a true testament to his times,” he said in a Facebook post.