This article originally appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News on June 29, 1994.
Only in Philadelphia could a politician who went up the river for racketeering, mail fraud, tax evasion and obstruction of justice come home to a hero's welcome.
Former City Councilman Jimmy Tayoun, one of the city's most colorful political felons, came home yesterday after almost three years in jail.
He flashed a million-dollar smile as he got off a Capitol Trailways bus in the dark and dirty 11th Street tunnel outside the Peter Pan bus terminal.
As he sighed and looked around, the carbon monoxide and sooty air of his hometown must have seemed like fairy dust. A moment later, he hugged his friend Charlie McSorley with all the enthusiasm of a man who just got out of the joint.
How'd he feel? The tan Tayoun pumped a bicep and kept that smile going. It was like he was getting home from a spa in Palm Beach, not a stretch in the big house.
"It's good to get away from the city, but I'm glad to be back," he said.
Passers-by shouted out "Hey Jimmy! " Whether he knew them or not, the natural pol asked how they were doing.
Stephan Curry, a South Philly man like Tayoun, stopped him on the street and shook his hand.
"Tayoun's a good man. He made his mistakes. He paid his debt to society. Give the man a break," Curry said.
Summing up his jail term, Tayoun joked, "I've done very well for myself thanks to the government."
As consumed with happiness as he was, Tayoun still had time to get in a commercial or two. In a brief interview, he plugged his book and his restaurant.
He wants his first meal in town to be at the Middle East Restaurant, which he owns with his brother, Ed.
"It's a great place to go for shishkebab," he said.
And, he plugged a book he wrote while inside the Federal Correctional Camp in Minersville. It's a political novel called "All Sheep Got To Be Sheared." He's looking for a publisher.
The book is about a city councilman who endures a criminal investigation, not unlike Tayoun's own experience.
That brings us to why the feds decided to deprive Philadelphia of the former three-term state representative and councilman.
Between 1984 and 1987, Tayoun was a lobbyist who paid about $30,000 in bribes to ex-Councilman Leland Beloff and an aide for their support on real estate projects.
When Beloff was busted for an unrelated extortion scheme, Tayoun ran for Beloff's Council seat and won it.
Then the fun began. In 1988 and 1989, Tayoun made about $22,000 in bribes and concealed about $210,000 in income from the IRS, including money he skimmed from his lobbying business.
Beloff, like Tayoun, just recently got out of the joint.
But what makes Tayoun a beloved crook is that he was the kind of city councilman who got potholes filled, alleys cleaned and street lights fixed.
At his trial, he had a bevy of character witnesses, including a woman suffering from leukemia who told how Tayoun nurtured her back to health after she was assaulted.
Tayoun will spend two months at a local federal halfway house, then three years on probation.
For those three years, Tayoun must stay out of politics, according to assistant U.S. Attorney David Howard, who put him away.
Describing Minersville, Tayoun said, "It's all outdoors. It's America's mountain town. It's nice country to be in."
Tayoun started out in jail as a recreation orderly taking care of pool tables and volleyball courts. He moved up to running the prison kitchen.
Besides the political novel, he wrote a guide called "Going to Prison?" It tells future inmates to get their teeth fixed before moving inside, bring two pairs of glasses and abstain from sex.