JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Rep. Earle Banks (D-District 67) pled guilty a federal tax crime charge.
He entered a guilty plea on Wednesday as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. government. Banks pled guilty to “willfully making a false material statement on a federal income tax return” to the tune of $582,000 he earned through the sale of property his family owned.
The penalty of the felony carries up to three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one-year of supervised release.
District Judge Carlton Reeves said in court that this conviction may lead to Banks not being fit to hold public office.
The Mississippi constitution does protect members of the Legislature found guilty of tax felonies, according to Banks’ attorney.
“Mr. Banks has been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And today, he had an opportunity to speak directly to the judge and admit that he made a mistake in failing to report on his tax return. The income from the sale of this land that had been in this family for a long time, and forward, the constitution states that a person does not have to leave the Legislature to convicted of a tax fraud. But in this case, Judge Reeves said that that’s still a possibility. Well, I think Judge Reeves is not aware of that specific provision, and that’s why he used the word may. So, I just think it’s something he hasn’t looked at, because that’s not that’s not an issue that’s before him,” stated Attorney Rob McDuff.
By pleading guilty, Banks avoided a trial.
The government did law out the evidence they had against Banks in court, including evidence that he opened a bank account in his mother’s name a day before receiving the money and depositing the money in that bank account.