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Top Mississippi Democrat gets 2 years probation in tax case

A longtime Mississippi lawmaker was sentenced Monday to two years of probation and has already paid nearly $85,000 in restitution, months after he pleaded guilty to a federal charge of willfully making a false statement on a tax return.

Democratic Rep. Earle Banks of Jackson was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves. Banks’ conviction does not prevent him from continuing to serve at the state Capitol and he intends to remain in office, according to his attorney Rob McDuff.

Banks, 69, is a funeral director and attorney. He has been in the House since 1993.

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When he pleaded guilty in May, Banks admitted failing to report more than $500,000 of income from the 2018 sale of real estate that had been in his family for many years, McDuff said.

A federal charging document showed 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.

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Banks has paid restitution of $84,766, McDuff said Monday. Banks could have faced up to three years in prison for the guilty plea.

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 was unopposed for reelection this year in House District 67, which is entirely in Hinds County. He ran unsuccessfully for a Mississippi Supreme Court seat in 2012.

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