Former Illinois congressman pleads not guilty to tax charges in latest case

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 30, 2015 1:53 PM

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Mel Reynolds, a former Illinois congressman who has faced numerous legal troubles over the years, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of failing to file income tax returns for 2009 through 2012, a spokesman for federal prosecutors said.

Reynolds, 63, indicted last month, faces up to a year in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the four counts against him. He had previously been convicted for having sex with an underage campaign worker.

Reynolds, a Rhodes scholar and one-time promising star of the Democratic Party, was first elected to Congress in 1992.

In August 1994, he was indicted for having a relationship with a 16-year-old campaign worker but still was re-elected in 1994 in his Chicago district without opposition. The case ended with a conviction on sexual assault and child pornography charges in 1995 and Reynolds resigned.

Before his release from prison in 1997, Reynolds was convicted of bank fraud and misusing campaign funds for personal use and had to serve additional time. He was released in 2001.

Reynolds tried politics again but in 2013 lost a bid for the U.S. House of Representatives seat of Jesse Jackson Jr., who had resigned before pleading guilty to fraud charges.

Last year, Reynolds ran into legal trouble in Zimbabwe and was charged with possession of pornographic images and videos. The charges were dropped but he pleaded guilty to a visa violation, according to media accounts.

His next status hearing date on the tax case will be Aug. 26, according to Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office.

Richard Kling, Reynolds' attorney, declined to comment.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Bill Trott)