Former congressman Mel Reynolds’ legal problems went from bad to worse Wednesday, as prosecutors suggested they have photos which show Reynolds daughter is not as ill as he has continually insisted.
Reynolds, who faces tax evasion charges, incurred the wrath of Judge James Darrah last week, when he failed to return from Africa claiming he had to be with his daughter, who is virtually bedridden with scoliosis.
But in court Tuesday, prosecutors showed photos they had lifted from Marisol Reynolds’ social media accounts, showing her vacationing in Berlin, and speaking of the need to “remember to do my squats”.
“The defendant has …filed motions and press releases clearly painting a picture of a young woman who is bedridden,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas. “The illness is not quite to the extent portrayed.”
“She recently tweeted that she may be moving to Berlin,” Jonas said. “We’re not questioning whether she has medical infirmities, we’re questioning the extent.”
In a telephone interview from Atlanta, where Reynolds was briefly detained after his return from Africa, Reynolds bristled at prosecutors’ contention that his daughter isn’t gravely ill.
“What’s amazing is the heartlessness of it all,” Reynolds told NBC5. “She’s looking for alternative medicine. All they have is a picture of her in a museum!”
“Why are they monitoring my child’s social media?” Reynolds asked. “I think it’s amazing what the government is doing in a misdemeanor tax case!”
When Reynolds was detained at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport, Homeland Security agents seized his computer and telephone after he refused to give them his password.
“I say no, and they take it,” Reynolds said. “Ninety percent of my absolute defense is on that computer!”
Indeed, Reynolds’ attorney Richard Kling made the same argument to the judge, asking how he can prepare a defense for the trial which is scheduled May 2nd, if he can’t get access to documents on his client’s computer, which could prove exculpatory in his case.
“I cannot,” Kling said after court. “Moreover it’s not only the documents which I need to analyze in time with him, my understanding is there are a number of witnesses who could potentially testify in his defense, and I obviously can’t interview them until I know who they are, and what their significance is.”
“Judge Darrah has bent over backwards,” Kling quickly added. “Judge Darrah wants the trial to proceed, and other judges, quite frankly, probably would have had him locked up.”
The judge set a hearing on the matter for Thursday afternoon, and Reynolds promised to be back in Chicago to attend. But in the meantime, the former congressman wondered aloud how the May 2nd court date can go forward.
“Our entire trial strategy is on that computer,” he said. “Am I expected to go to trial without any evidence?”
Prosecutors indicated in court that they will seek to have Reynolds placed on electronic monitoring.
“This is the prosecution’s ploy so they can know exactly where I’m at—who I’m visiting,” he said. “I’m not a flight risk. To suggest that I should be on home monitoring now, is a real stretch!”