CHICAGO (CBS) — Already facing misdemeanor tax charges, former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds could be in more legal trouble, after failing to return to Chicago from Africa on Thursday.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Darrah declined Reynolds’ attorneys’ request to delay his tax evasion trial, slated to begin May 2.

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Darrah also said he wanted to be informed immediately if Reynolds did not return to Chicago from South Africa on Thursday, as previously agreed. Reynolds has pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor charges accusing him of failing to file income tax returns from 2009 to 2012.

When Reynolds did not return to Chicago on Thursday, Darrah issued a bench warrant for his arrest, but said if Reynolds makes arrangements to return from South Africa in the next few days, the arrest warrant will be rescinded.

Free on bond, Reynolds has been allowed to travel to South Africa with his 22-year-old daughter who suffers from scoliosis, and might need surgery soon.

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In a phone interview, Reynolds said he needs to be with his daughter, and is doing what any parent would do in his situation.

“My choices were to abandon my child, or come back at this precise moment to face a misdemeanor. I think any parent under the similar circumstances would do the same thing. It wasn’t like the court and the prosecution didn’t have warning. They’ve just chosen to take a hard line and ignore the fact that I have a sick child,” he said.

Reynolds said he doesn’t see any reason a continuance would hurt the case.

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“The question, I think, comes up, why are they so crazy, so adamant to go forward on a misdemeanor case?” he said.