JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A longtime Mississippi lawmaker faces up to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal charge of willfully making a false statement on a tax return — a conviction that does not preclude him from seeking reelection this year.
Democratic Rep. Earle Banks of Jackson appeared before U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate and admitted he had failed to report more than $500,000 of income from the 2018 sale of real estate.
Sentencing is set for Aug. 21. Banks, 68, is funeral director and attorney. He has been in the House since 1993.
“Mr. Banks has cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and today he had an opportunity to speak directly to the judge,” his attorney, Rob McDuff, said in a statement Wednesday. “He admitted his mistake in failing to report on his tax return the proceeds from the sale of this land that been in his family for many years.”
A federal charging document was first filed against Banks, under seal, on April 14. It was unsealed Thursday. The document shows Banks claimed adjusted gross income of $38,237 even though he knew he had received more than $500,000 from the sale of real estate.
Banks is unopposed as he seeks reelection this year in House District 67, which is entirely in Hinds County.
Conviction of many felony charges disqualifies people from holding public offices in Mississippi, but convictions for manslaughter or violating federal tax laws do not prevent people from seeking or holding office, including a legislative seat.
Banks ran unsuccessfully for a Mississippi Supreme Court seat in 2012.