No-show Mel Reynolds won’t go away

SHARE No-show Mel Reynolds won’t go away

Not quite three years ago, former Congressman Mel Reynolds dug out an old ill-fitting business suit and held a press conference at the Allegro Hotel to announce he was running to get his seat back.

The office had just been vacated by a soon-to-be convicted Jesse Jackson Jr., and Reynolds, who had gone to prison on two separate felony convictions nearly two decades earlier, said it was time for redemption.

One of the reporters challenged him that day about what he’d been doing since his prison release to earn a return to public life, and Reynolds told us he’d been working as a business consultant, brokering deals between African investors and U.S. companies. He made himself sound quite successful.

Federal authorities now tell us that even as he stood there, Reynolds hadn’t filed a federal income tax return in three years. He allegedly wouldn’t get around to it the next year either, by which time voters had rejected him with less than 1 percent of the vote.

This was just one in a lifetime of “What-was-he-thinking?” moments for Reynolds, now 63, who was due to be arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court for failure to file income tax returns from 2009 to 2012.

To no great surprise, the disgraced former congressman was a no-show in court.

Reynolds sent word through his attorney, Theodore Poulos, that he’s been out of the country since early June tending to medical issues involving his daughter and couldn’t get back in time.

That might be true or it might be another in a long line of Reynolds’ shaggy dog stories. I consider it just as likely Reynolds was aware former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was allowed to push back the date of his recent arraignment and wanted to test the system to make sure he received the same courtesy.

It’s not unusual to delay an arraignment, although it is somewhat unusual for both sides to come to court to accomplish this, as they did Monday, instead of working it out in advance.

Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez sent her clerk out with a new court date of July 30 instead of conducting a hearing that would have aired the matter in public.

Poulos assured us his client will be in court the next time the case is up on July 30.

The veteran defense attorney emphasized the charges against Reynolds are less serious misdemeanors, not felonies, and said he expects his client to plead not guilty.

But Poulos declined to say where Reynolds is or expand on the medical issue facing his adult daughter, the air of mystery being par for the course when the Harvard-educated con man is involved.

Every time I think I have typed the name Mel Reynolds for the last time, he does something else that practically demands we kick him around one more time.

This is the same Mel Reynolds who you may recall was last seen exiting a Zimbabwe jail last year for purposes of being kicked out of the country after he had been arrested in a bizarre caper for allegedly being in possession of pornography.

At the time, it was reported that Reynolds had run up $24,500 in unpaid hotel bills and had been hiring models to come to his room to pose for homemade videos.

Some of this information allegedly came from members of a five-person entourage Reynolds had hired in Zimbabwe with who-knows-whose money.

Reynolds, whose penchant for teenage girls in Catholic school uniforms led to the first of his prior convictions, had been keeping a low profile since exiting Zimbabwe.

Poulos signaled the theory under which Reynolds will fight the charges.

“I believe there are serious questions about whether or not the money involved actually constitutes income under the U.S. tax codes,” Poulos said.

Asked to explain, Poulos said: “It’s a complicated matter that involves a lot of different circumstances.”

It figures. When Mel Reynolds is involved, the explanation is always complicated.

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