WASHINGTON: Thursday, former U.S. Congressman Mel Reynolds (D-IL) will be serving four months in prison for tax evasion. It could have been much worse. Federal prosecutors recommended Judge Robert Gettleman send the defendant up the river for twenty-seven months.
Reynolds legal troubles stem from his failure to claim more than $400,000 in consulting fees on his income forms. He earned the fees working for Chicago companies wanting to do business in Zimbabwe, where he was arrested for outstaying his visa and possessing pornography on his cellphone.
A congressman and career criminal
Judge Getteman shaved two months off Reynolds’ six-month sentence for time served on a previous conviction. That crime? Violating the conditions of a bail bond agreement.
And that’s not all. Reynolds has a 1995 conviction for engaging in sex with a minor:
“Rep. Mel Reynolds was convicted Tuesday of having sex with a former [16-year-old] campaign worker while she was underage, asking her to obtain child pornography for him and then having her leave the state and sign false affidavits recanting the accusations,” The Los Angeles Times reported in August of 1995.
Reynolds accused prosecutors of racism and using “Gestapo tactics” to convict him.
Prosecutor Andrea Zopp told the jury,
“The defendant sits here today not because he’s a congressman, not because he’s an African American, but because he committed a crime.”
1997 Bank Fraud Trial
During his 1997 trial for bank fraud, Reynolds spent five days on the witness stand. Reynolds telling jurors he was a victim of unethical bankers and moneygrubbing campaign staffers.
It took the jury all of four hours to convict him.
“They laid all their chips on Mel Reynolds’ credibility,” jury foreman Chuck Hampton said of Reynolds’ defense team, “and he didn’t have any, so they lost,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
One of impeached Bill Clinton’s last acts as president was to commute the former congressman’s sentence to time served.
The beautiful, the good, the educated
Mel Reynolds is not your typical, corrupt inner-city pol. He’s an Oxford Rhodes Scholar and Harvard University graduate.
For ancient Greeks, what was beautiful was good. In today’s America, those with higher educations are near angelic in nobility.
This is why mainstream media polls in 2016 trumpeted Hillary Clinton’s high approval ratings among the “college educated.”
Last Thursday, when Reynolds was asked by Judge Gettleman if he had anything to say before sentencing, the former congressman sadly said,
“How long does a person have to pay for his mistakes?”
The judge was quick to answer.
“It follows you the rest of your life. It goes to character.”
Speaking with reporters, Reynolds says he is “done with America” and “going home to Africa.”
A fresh start
He hopes to be out of prison and living in South Africa with his daughter by Christmas.
According to Transparency International, whose index uses a scale of zero to 100 (with 100 being absolutely stellar) to judge national corruption, South Africa ranks 75th for “public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople.”
That means Mel Reynolds’ experiences in crooked Chicago and on swampy Capitol Hill nearly guarantees he’ll have a very happy and prosperous 2019.
Top Image: Former Congressman Mel Reynolds after his conviction for tax evasion.
Chicago CBS 2 screen capture.