Michigan lawmaker resigns to resolve criminal loan charges

AP News
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Posted: Feb 06, 2017 4:34 PM

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan lawmaker with a lengthy criminal record resigned from office Monday as part of a plea deal to resolve charges that he submitted fraudulent pay stubs to secure a $3,000 loan in 2010.

Third-term Democratic state Rep. Brian Banks of Harper Woods pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing false financial statements. Three felony counts were dropped, sparing him from being considered a habitual offender at his Feb. 17 sentencing.

Banks, who won-re-election despite the charges and was just a month into his final two years in the House under term limits, faces up to a year in prison, according to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office. The habitual status could have subjected him to more time behind bars.

"As an elected official, you carry a higher burden of responsibility and are expected to act as a role model in your community," Schuette, a Republican who charged Banks in June, said in a statement. "Former Representative Banks violated the trust placed in him by his neighbors and constituents."

Banks, 40, was previously convicted of writing bad checks and credit card fraud. In the current case, he was accused of seeking a $7,500 personal loan from the Detroit Metropolitan Credit Union by submitting false pay stubs from IHI Attorneys + Consultants. He stated the loan's purpose was for a bar review course.

Schuette said Banks — who was loaned $3,000 — never worked at or with the business, and the check originated with a payroll company the firm never used. Banks' lawyer has said the charges, which were brought just before the statute of limitations expired, were politically motivated and timed to hurt his re-election bid.

House Speaker Tom Leonard, a DeWitt Republican, said Banks' office will remain open and his constituents will receive assistance if they need it.

"Rep. Banks had one legal issue after another during his time in public office," he said in a statement. "I am glad to see he is finally taking responsibility for his actions, and hopefully today's plea agreement provides the fresh start he needs."

In 2015, the state paid nearly $12,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Banks by a former aide who had been fired. The House spent about $85,000 on outside lawyers in the case.

Banks, a former elementary school teacher who chaired the Detroit Caucus, represented the 1st House District, which includes Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods, Grosse Pointe Shores and a portion of Detroit.

Special primary and general elections to fill his seat could be scheduled for May and August.

"I respect Rep. Brian Banks' decision to resign," said House Minority Leader Sam Singh, an East Lansing Democrat. "Rep Banks was a passionate advocate for his district, and he worked tirelessly for his constituents. I wish him the best moving forward."

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Follow David Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/david-eggert

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This story has been corrected to say Banks' hometown is Harper Woods based on new information from House officials.