Former U.S. Representative Mel Reynolds was once viewed as a rising political star. However, a series of criminal charges beginning in the mid-1990s derailed his trajectory. Reynolds, a Harvard graduate and a former Rhodes scholar, is perhaps a cautionary tale illustrating the fact that regardless of your intelligence, cunning, charm, and other positive qualities state and U.S. law still apply to you. When it comes to an array of crimes, including tax crimes, prosecutors and investigators are aggressive, thorough, and will leave no stone unturned regardless of your reputation or office.
For a time, it appeared that Mel Reynolds had gotten his life back on track. After being convicted on 16 counts of bank fraud, misappropriating campaign funds, and other charges in 1997, Reynolds served 42 months of his sentence before the bank fraud charges were commuted by President Bill Clinton.
For a time, it appeared that Reynolds had learned his lesson. In January 2001, Reynolds was hired by Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition and tasked with finding appropriate strategies to combat the effects of mass incarceration felt disproportionately by young African-Americans. In 2012, Reynolds announced that he planned on running to replace the recently resigned Jesse Jackson, Jr. in the Illinois’s 2nd congressional district special election.
However, the campaign failed and things began to unravel for Reynolds from this point on. In February 2014, Reynolds was arrested in Zimbabwe for overstaying his visa and on other charges. Then, in June 2015, Reynolds was indicted on federal tax charges by a grand jury for his failure to file federal income tax returns for the 2009 through 2012 tax years.
Reynolds pleaded not guilty to these tax charges. He was allowed to remain out of custody on bond on the basis of numerous promises. One of those promises involved the representation that Reynolds oversaw his college-aged daughter’s medical care. Reynolds represented to a federal judge that his daughter’s condition was serious and that he was integral to her continued care. Thus, Reynolds was permitted to travel to Africa two times since his conviction.
However, prosecutors brought evidence to the court that showed that Reynolds pleas and promises may not have been what they seem. Presenting social media posts from Reynolds daughter, the prosecutors showed that Reynold’s daughter went on an extravagant trip to Berlin despite any alleged medical condition. The daughter posted about ritzy hotels and high-class dining experiences during a time when Reynolds was supposed to be overseeing her medical treatment. Reynolds tried to explain away the evidence, but the judge did not accept Reynold’s explanations and ordered Reynolds to be taken into custody.
Reynolds is scheduled to face trial for his failure to file taxes on June 20, 2016. If convicted, he could face up to one year in prison and $250,000 in penalties for each count against him. However, in a handwritten motion, Reynolds moved before the court to request additional time citing that conditions in the jail and jail library did not permit him to adequately prepare for trial.
Reynolds recently fired his attorney. He now claims that an obsolete computer, non-functional printer, no access to federal case law, and extremely limited amounts of time permitted to use these items have prevented him from preparing a defense. It is for these reasons that in mid-May, Reynolds had originally decided that he would plead guilty to the charges. However, Reynolds soon changed his mind and about a week later rescinded his guilty plea.
While it is not known how the court will rule regarding his request for an adjournment, Reynolds faces tax charges that could result in another four years in prison. Furthermore, he will face a judge and court that is skeptical of his claims and unlikely to provide a benefit of the doubt.
If you are facing tax crime allegations, the penalties are harsh and can result in a lengthy prison sentence. Prosecutors are aggressive and strategic and will not hesitate to put their years of experience to work in securing a conviction. If you are facing tax charges, the stakes are too high to go it alone.
Dually certified tax attorney and CPA David W. Klasing may be able to fight for you and mitigate your tax situation. With more than 20 years of experience in tax law, David Klasing and the tax attorneys and CPAs of the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing can fight to protect you and your rights. To schedule a reduced-rate consultation, call 800-681-1295 or contact us online today.