Former Illinois U.S. congressman Mel Reynolds was found guilty in federal court on Thursday for failing to file federal income tax returns, marking the latest legal trouble for the one-time Democratic Party rising star.
Reynolds, 65, faced four counts of failing to file a federal return after not filing in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman gave the verdict after a bench trial in federal court in Chicago, prosecutors said.
The ruling followed Reynolds’ previous convictions for sexual assault, child pornography, bank fraud and misusing campaign funds.
Reynolds, who represented himself during the trial, declined comment to Reuters. However, he told the Chicago Tribune he planned to appeal the verdict.
“I disagree with the judge finding me guilty of a misdemeanor, and I’m going to be addressing all of the issues for a new trial in a motion that I’m filing early next week,” Reynolds told the newspaper.
Reynolds’ sentencing will be scheduled later, prosecutors said. Each count comes with a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Reynolds received gross income exceeding the minimum amount required to file a tax return, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors argued Reynolds collected $433,000 for consulting work he did in Africa during the four-year period he failed to file tax returns, the Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times said. But Reynolds said the money was not income, rather it was for travel and other expenses, and as such, it did not need to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service, the Tribune said.
Reynolds, first elected to Congress in 1992, was indicted in 1994 for having a relationship with a 16-year-old campaign worker and was re-elected that year 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 scheduled release from prison in 1997, Reynolds was convicted of bank fraud and misusing campaign funds and sentenced 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.
(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Andrew Hay)