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Ex-U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds reports to prison to start four-month sentence

Mel Reynolds speaks after his sentencing hearing at the Dirksen Federal Building Thursday, May 10, 2018. | Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

Disgraced and thrice-convicted former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds reported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the Loop Wednesday to begin his four-month prison sentence.

Reynolds was sentenced to six months prison earlier this year after he was found guilty four misdemeanor counts of failing to file income tax returns on more than $400,000 he was paid between 2009 and 2012.

A U.S. Bureau of Prisons representative confirmed Reynolds reported to the downtown prison ahead of his 2 p.m. deadline Wednesday.

Reynolds — who rose from poverty to become a Rhodes Scholar, Harvard grad and then congressman — was credited for two months he already spent behind bars after violating bond conditions.

After his sentence was handed down last May, he vowed to leave the country upon completion of his sentence.

“I’m done with America. I’m going to do this, and I’m going home — to Africa. … I’ve given up on America,” said Reynolds, who represented himself at trial.

Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of up to 27 months in prison for Reynolds, as suggested under federal sentencing guidelines, largely based on his two prior convictions.

Even the U.S. Probation Office recommended that Reynolds serve a 10-month sentence to “send a message” to him that “he is not above the law.”

But U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman settled on what he acknowledged in court was a “fairly lenient” sentence that took into account the age of the 66-year-old ex-congressman who now says he lives in a Monee motel.

His two previous convictions stemmed from his time in Congress: the first in state court in 1995 for having sex with an underage campaign worker and the second in federal court in 1997 on campaign and bank fraud charges.

In 2001, then President Bill Clinton commuted Reynolds’ federal sentence with more than two years remaining, allowing him to serve the rest of his sentence at a halfway house.