CHICAGO (CBS) — Former congressman Mel Reynolds has asked a federal judge to grant him a three-month delay in his upcoming trial on misdemeanor tax evasion charges, claiming he can’t prepare his case because of the conditions at the jail where he is being held.
The handwritten motion repeats previous claims the law library at the Kankakee County Jail — where he has been held since he was locked up in April for violating the conditions of his bond — does not give him access to federal court records so he can prepare for trial. He also said he cannot go online, and the jail computer does not have a printer, and cannot open a disc containing evidence handed over by the prosecution.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Frost Advisory Away From The City
Reynolds, 64, also accused federal prosecutors of misrepresenting how much time he is allowed to work on his case while in jail.
“The main issue for me is getting a fair trial,” Reynolds wrote. “I am not angry at anyone, and that includes the prosecution, despite their misrepresentations during these proceedings. I fully understand that their only interest here is winning. If they meet Justice along te way to victory, then fine. If not, so be it. Again, All that I am asking is a fair trial.”
Reynolds has previously claimed he was moved into protective custody due to death threats from gang members with ties to Gangster Disciples founder Larry Hoover, who allegedly ordered a hit on him in the 1990s, when Reynolds opposed Hoover’s parole.
U.S. District Judge John Darrah has scheduled Reynolds’ trial for June 20, but he has asked to push that back until no earlier than Sept. 20. Reynolds is facing four misdemeanor charges accusing him of failing to file income tax returns from 2009 to 2012.READ MORE: Man Shot, Critically Wounded Near Lincoln And California Avenues
Earlier this month, Reynolds filed a handwritten motion stating he intended to lead guilty, because the conditions in jail were preventing him from preparing for trial, but he changed his mind a week later, stating “I am not guilty of this charge,” and apologizing “for any confusion.”
Reynolds has been in custody since April 20, when he was arrested upon his return to the United States from South Africam after previously missing a mutually agreed hearing before Darrah. When Reynolds couldn’t provide a place of residence where he could stay while on electronic monitoring, Darrah ordered him taken into custody.
Once a Rhodes Scholar and a rising political star, Reynolds saw his career come crashing down in 1995 after a Cook County jury convicted him of having sex with an underage campaign worker. While behind bars for the sex charges, he was also convicted in federal court on financial and campaign fraud charges, but President Bill Clinton pardoned Reynolds in 2001, and he was released from prison.
He ran for Congress again in 2012, in the special election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned amid a federal investigation that eventually led to Jackson pleading guilty to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds. But Reynolds got less than 1 percent of the vote in a crowded Democratic primary.
Last year, Reynolds was arrested in Zimbabwe, for allegedly possessing pornographic images and videos, and violating Zimbabwe’s immigration laws.MORE NEWS: Woman Seriously Injured In Hit-And-Run In Lakeview, Half A Mile West Of Wrigley Field
The pornography charges were later dismissed, Reynolds pleaded guilty to the immigration charge, and he was deported from Zimbabwe. He later accused authorities of trumping up the charges against him to discredit him, after he gathered embarrassing information about the Zimbabwe government.