Former congressman Mel Reynolds, in custody and awaiting trial on federal tax charges, has abruptly announced he intends to plead guilty.
"Under the circumstances of my confinement, I have no other chose (sp)," Reynolds said in a handwritten motion, mailed to U.S. District Judge John Darrah. "It is more than clear that I cannot get ready for trial."
His trial was set for June 20.
Reynolds, who is acting as his own attorney, had previously written Darrah from the Kankakee County Jail where he is presently housed, complaining of his accommodations and asking to be moved to a halfway house to better prepare for trial. At the time, he said he had suffered from chest pains, had briefly been hospitalized, and had been placed in a protective custody area for his own protection, because of his public positions against the Gangster Disciples street gang.
"While in federal incarceration in the late '90's, there were two attempts on my life," Reynolds said. "Part of the reason that President William J. Clinton granted my petition for executive clemency and commuted my sentence was to remove me from this dangerous, life threatening situation."
During his most recent brush with the law, Reynolds was placed on electronic monitoring, to prevent him from fleeing the United States for Africa where he had made numerous excursions. When he claimed he could find no place to live which would permit the necessary monitoring equipment, Darrah ordered him taken into custody.
The court had previously appointed law professor Richard Kling to represent Reynolds, but two weeks ago he fired Kling, saying he intended to represent himself. Kling was retained by the court to assist with the legal nuances of that effort.
Reynolds has repeatedly charged that he is the victim of a racist prosecution, so much so, that prosecutors filed a motion yesterday, asking that he be prohibited from making such charges in front of his jury.
“The defendant has a track record of issuing inflammatory accusations in the media,” the government wrote. “As such, the defendant may attempt to embrace these same antics in the courtroom.”
That motion would now appear to be moot, with Reynolds’ sudden decision to plead guilty.