Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds arrested at Atlanta airport

Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds was arrested in Atlanta on Monday and released on his own recognizance after failing to appear for a hearing in a tax case last month, federal officials said.

Reynolds, who had been in South Africa with his 23-year-old daughter, appeared in federal court in Atlanta and was released, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Fitzpatrick in Chicago said in an email.

Reynolds was arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when his flight arrived from Johannesburg, U.S. Marshals Service spokeswoman Belkis Cantor Sandoval said. He has pleaded not guilty on a misdemeanor charge of failing to file income tax returns from 2009 to 2012.

An arrest warrant was issued for Reynolds on March 31 when he told a judge he wouldn't appear in court as ordered because he's caring for a daughter whom he says has scoliosis and may also have cervical cancer. The Illinois Democrat had asked the judge "to show some compassion and understanding."

"His case is scheduled for trial in Chicago on May 2, and we expect him to be here for it," Fitzpatrick said after Reynolds was released.

An attorney for Reynolds, Richard Kling, said Homeland Security agents seized the former congressman's smartphone and computer, which contain text messages and documents essential to Reynolds' defense in the tax case.

"Right now, we're trying to figure out how we get that back from Homeland Security," Kling said in a telephone interview.

Kling says he did not believe the agents had warrants for the devices.

This isn't the first time Reynolds has faced federal charges.

A Harvard graduate and a Rhodes Scholar, Reynolds resigned his 2nd Congressional District seat in 1995 after being convicted of statutory rape for having sex with a 16-year-old campaign worker. He served 2 ½ years in state prison.

Later, he was convicted in federal court for concealing debts to obtain bank loans and diverting money intended for voter registration drives into his election campaign. He was sentenced to 6 ½ years in federal prison and had two years left when then-President Bill Clinton commuted the sentence in 2001.


Associated Press writers Phillip Lucas in Birmingham, Ala., and Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis contributed to this story.