Ex- US congressman Mel Reynolds arrested in Zimbabwe

February 18, 2014 (HARARE, Zimbabwe)

This is not uncharted territory for Mel Reynolds. The ex-con-congressman served federal prison time for solicitation of child pornography and other charges including 12 counts of sexual assault with an underage campaign worker, and later, bank fraud. Those cases were from the mid-1990s, and lately Reynolds has claimed redemption. But that salvation suffered a setback in Zimbabwe when police say they found lots of porn in his hotel room.

A year ago, a humbled Mel Reynolds was intent on regaining the congressional seat he surrendered prior to prison. But in last year's election, the Rhodes Scholar was rebuffed with less than one percent of the vote.

Since then, Reynolds has spent time away from Chicago, overseas in the African nation of Zimbabwe working on tourism business deals. It was here that the 62-year-old Democrat-turned-businessman was arrested Monday by police in the city of Harare.

Zimbabwe's government-owned newspaper has the Reynolds story here on its front page, with the former Chicago congressman and ex-con pictured in handcuffs at the time of his arrest.

Reynolds had been staying at a resort hotel according to law enforcement authorities. They found 100 pornographic videos and 2000 obscene photos according to the government news agency. A hotel manager tells the I-Team Reynolds has not returned. He is believed to still be in custody-pending a Friday court hearing.

In 1995 then-congressman Reynolds was convicted of soliciting child porn, having sex with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer and statutory rape. He was sentenced in a separate bank fraud case and spent years in prison before President Bill Clinton commuted the fraud sentence.

On Tuesday, Reynolds also faces immigration charges in Zimbabwe.

Authorities say he came into the country through this border passing on November 13 and was given a 14-day visa. It was renewed once but on December 10, Reynolds' visa expired and officials say he has been there illegally ever since.

Reynolds is said to have been chauffeured around Zimbabwe with an entourage after cinching a big Hilton hotel deal there last year, but the local press reports he also owes almost $25,000 for his own hotel bills. If convicted of pornography, he faces up to two years in prison and deportation on the visa violation.

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