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Elzie Higginbottom claims he’s being harassed by Mel Reynolds

Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds (pictured in July 2015) leaves federal court in Chicago. Chicago businessman Elzie Higginbottom claims he is being harassed with subpoenas as the ex-congressman gears up for trial in federal court. | M. Spencer Green/AP

A prominent Chicago businessman tangled up in the federal case against former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds claims he is being harassed with subpoenas as the ex-congressman gears up for trial.

Reynolds is set to go on trial later this month for failing to file federal income tax returns between 2009 and 2012. Though the charges are only misdemeanors, Reynolds’ case has been wrought with drama. A federal judge even ordered Reynolds locked up in April after he failed to return to Chicago on time from a trip to South Africa.

Now Chicago businessman Elzie Higginbottom has asked U.S. District Judge John Darrah to quash a set of subpoenas Reynolds sent Higginbottom seeking personal and business tax returns and bank documents from Higginbottom.

A motion filed by Higginbottom’s attorney Friday describes Higginbottom as “a victim of Mr. Reynolds” and asks Darrah to sanction Reynolds, who is due back in court Tuesday.

Higginbottom and Willie Wilson, another local businessman, could both testify if Reynolds goes to trial. But federal prosecutors want Darrah to bar Reynolds from accusing them both of criminal misconduct. Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas wrote in a court filing that both men were engaged in business ventures in Zimbabwe, and both agreed to pay Reynolds a fee to draw upon his relationships there.

“The fee was income to the defendant that should have been reported on a tax return,” Jonas wrote.

Records show Reynolds has subpoenaed tax forms and correspondence from Wilcar LLC, Burling Builders, East Lake Management, LCL Higginbottom and ELH Partners LLC.