Judge orders Higginbottom — again — to give Mel Reynolds records

A federal judge has ordered Elzie Higginbottom to turn tax and banking records over to former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds — again.

Five months ago, U.S. District Judge John Darrah gave the Chicago businessman 30 days to give up tax returns and a pile of canceled checks as Reynolds prepared for his federal trial on misdemeanor tax charges, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

While engaged in business ventures in Zimbabwe, Higginbottom had agreed to pay Reynolds a fee to draw upon his relationships there, prosecutors have said. In his September ruling, Darrah called Higginbottom’s tax records “clearly relevant” to the case against Reynolds.

Instead of complying with the federal judge’s order, Higginbottom has balked and claimed he was being harassed by Reynolds.

But Wednesday, Higginbottom was finally forced to appear in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve. That’s where his attorney, William Murphy, argued that many of the records at issue had already been turned over to federal prosecutors, who handed what they had received to Reynolds.

Other records, such as Higginbottom’s personal tax returns, “have nothing to do with this,” Murphy argued.

St. Eve ordered Higginbottom to turn them all over to Reynolds, regardless, and gave him a new deadline of March 20.

Murphy again tried to argue that the records had been turned over, prompting a frustrated St. Eve to note they weren’t given directly to Reynolds.

“You told me that yourself,” St. Eve said.

Reynolds subpoenaed tax forms and correspondence from Wilcar LLC, Burling Builders, East Lake Management, LCL Higginbottom and ELH Partners LLC, records show. He has been accused of failing to file tax returns between 2009 and 2012.

His trial is now set for Sept. 11.