- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds on Wednesday said he will plead not guilty to federal charges he failed to file income tax returns from 2009 to 2012.

In news conference a day before he is to be arraigned on the federal charges, Reynolds said a narrative has developed that he didn’t pay his taxes.

“By going to trial, this is going to set the record straight,” he said.

Reynolds claims the majority of the money the government claims he didn’t pay taxes on was expense money given him by Chicago businessman Elzie Higginbottom to find business opportunities in Africa. He said some of the money was a donation by the real estate developer to pay for his children’s schooling.

Higginbottom did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment on Reynolds’ assertions.

Prosecutors declined to comment on Reynolds’ claims

Reynolds was to be arraigned earlier this month. However, the Illinois Democrat couldn’t return from an overseas trip in time because of a daughter’s health problems.

The former congressman is charged with failing to file federal income tax returns over four years. He faces a maximum one-year prison term on each count.

This isn’t Reynolds’ first legal predicament.

He resigned from his 2nd Congressional District seat in 1995 after being convicted of statutory rape for having sex with an underage campaign worker and was found guilty in state court. Later, he was convicted in federal court for concealing debts to obtain bank loans and diverting money intended for voter registration drives into his election campaign.

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