Judge calls Mel Reynolds a flight risk, but lets him walk free

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Former congressman Mel Reynolds appeared before a judge Thursday on tax charges, but will have to wait to find out his fate.

Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds appeared before a judge Thursday on tax charges, but will have to wait to find out his fate.

A federal judge called Reynolds a flight risk several times during the hearing. However, he allowed Reynolds to walk outside the courtroom and said he must return for another hearing to be continued Wednesday morning.

The former congressman who quit Congress in 1995 after he was convicted of statutory rape is now facing charges for failing to file income taxes from 2009 to 2012.

The judge has allowed Reynolds to travel to Africa to help his sick daughter while he awaits his tax trial in June, but when Reynolds did not show up for a hearing on March 31, he was in violation of the conditions the court had ordered.

Reynolds returned to the U.S. this week. On Thursday, he complained that customs officials confiscated his cell phone and computers when he arrived back to the U.S. Reynolds wants that to be the focus rather than the judge calling him a flight risk.

"If you guys want to make that the story, go ahead, but I have my computer and my phone taken from me because I refused to give my private password to the federal government on a whim. They had no search warrant. They had no probable cause," Reynolds said.

"I don't think the judge sincerely believes he is a flight risk or he would not have allowed him to stay at large until Wednesday," said Richard Kling, Reynolds' attorney. "If the judge really thought he was a flight risk, he would have taken him into custody.

Prosecutors raised the concern that they believe Reynolds has two passports and they said he should be on electronic monitoring before the trial starts in June.

Reynolds said he has nowhere to stay right now, if he is made to wear electronic monitoring. These issues will be considered again during Wednesday's hearing.
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