Ex-Congressman Mel Reynolds Taken Into Federal Custody

Former Congressman Mel Reynolds was taken into federal custody Wednesday after he could not find a place to stay that would allow him to take part in an electronic monitoring program.

Reynolds, who faces federal tax charges, managed to avoid jail last Thursday after his attorney argued he was not a flight risk and should have more time to find a place to stay. 

In another twist in Reynolds' case, he revealed in court Wednesday that he now plans to represent himself, essentially giving his court-appointed attorney Richard Kling the boot. The judge strongly advised Reynolds against that decision, saying he is "making a mistake."

Prosecutors declared last week that Reynolds was “defiantly in violation" of a judge's order to return to the United States from Africa March 31. Reynolds failed to make that date and was immediately taken into custody when his plane landed in Atlanta early last week.

Reynolds had received court permission to travel to Africa to visit his purportedly ailing daughter, but prosecutors told the judge they were dubious about the severity of her illness.  They noted his supposedly near-bedridden daughter had been posting on Facebook about a February trip to Berlin.

“My daughter is 22 years old,” Reynolds insisted. “She is looking for alternative medicine. She doesn’t want to get sliced open.”

Prosecutors at first asked that Reynolds be placed on electronic home confinement, but the former congressman told the judge the family with whom he had been staying refused to have the equipment installed in their house.

“If there is no place where Mr. Reynolds can reside, I have no choice but to revoke his bond,” the judge said last week.

Kling pleaded with the judge to give his client more time to get his life in order.

“If he thought that he was a risk of fleeing, I think he would have immediately taken him into custody,” Kling said after court, where Reynolds insisted he had eventually always returned.

“A flight risk is someone who runs,” Reynolds said. “I’ve never run and got caught and they brought me back, have I?”

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