Former state Rep. sentenced to 1 day in jail

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Former Democratic Michigan Rep. Brian Banks, who won three terms to the state House despite eight prior felony convictions, was sentenced to a day in jail, time served, Friday.

The sentence comes after Banks pleaded guilty and resigned his office Feb. 6 in a plea agreement involving a $3,000 bank loan that cost him his seat and perhaps his political future.

Banks thanked his constituents and Michigan residents Friday saying,

“I was a strong voice for you. I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to continue to fight for the issues that matter most to you. Our citizens deserve a strong voice. One that won’t be bullied. One who will not be taken down ... I’m going to work on those matters that mean the most to you.”

Banks was charged last year with two felony counts of uttering and publishing each punishable by up to 14 years in prison — one felony count of using a false pretense to defraud or cheat, and one misdemeanor count of making false statements of financial condition.

Banks pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge Monday before 3rd Circuit Judge Michael Hathaway. Banks could have faced up to a year in jail.

The Harper Woods Democrat was accused of using false documents to try to obtain a $7,500 personal loan from a local credit union in 2010. He received $3,000 after initially not being approved by the Detroit Metropolitan Credit Union on East Jefferson.

After the sentencing hearing, Banks’ defense attorney Ben Gonek called the charges against Banks politically motivated and a “witch hunt” by the state Attorney General’s office because Banks had been an ardent critic of Michigan’s insurance industry .

Gonek would not comment on whether Banks will run again for elected office.

“This whole prosecution was ridiculous and a waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Gonek after Banks was sentenced. “It really was pretty sad. If he has the right to run again he may run again. He’s going to follow whatever the law is.”

Banks did not comment on whether he will run again. But on Thursday, Michigan officials say they believe the state constitution will prohibit Banks from running for his old seat in a special election announced Thursday by Gov. Rick Snyder. Legislators are also considering a measure that could definitively deny him the chance.

The governor has called a special primary election for Aug. 8 and a special general election for Nov. 7. Candidates seeking election for the seat must file for the primary by 4 p.m. April 25.

Earlier this month, Banks sent an email to supporters inviting them to a March 6 fundraiser at Sinbad’s restaurant in Detroit. The tickets at the event start at $50 and topping out at $5,000 for a platinum sponsorship.

(Detroit News staff writer Jonathan Oosting contributed)

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