Banks ordered not to leave state in felony case

Oralandar Brand-Williams, Chad Livengood, and Jonathan Oosting
State Rep. Brian Banks of Harper Woods, right, stands with his attorney, Ben Gonek, as he is arraigned in 36th District Court in Detroit on Wednesday.

State Rep. Brian Banks can’t leave the state as he fights felony charges in connection with allegedly submitting phony pay stubs to get a personal loan from a credit union.

Banks was arraigned Wednesday in 36th District Court where a not guilty plea was entered for him. .

The Harper Woods Democrat refused to comment and referred questions to his attorney, Ben Gonek. Gonek called the charges politically motivated and said Banks was targeted because of his vote on key issues such as the Detroit Public Schools’ financial bailout by the state and a controversial insurance program, called D Insurance, promoted to Detroiters.

“It’s ridiculous (and) clearly a political witch hunt,” Gonek said after the court hearing. “They were filed right before the primary election. This is close to the most ridiculous case I’ve ever seen.”

Gonek said he plans to review the filing and the charges to see if they were filed on the last day of the statute of limitations. He said he believes the state was given information in the case by a “political foe.”

Banks was given a $5,000 personal bond. His next court date is July 8 for a probable cause conference and his preliminary examination is July 14.

Banks’ colleague in the state House, Democratic Detroit state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, attended the arraignment and offered her support.

“(The case) is definitely politically driven,” Gay-Dagnogo said after the hearing. “He served his time for the crimes he committed previously but he’s serving in every capacity imaginable through the state of Michigan. We know that we’re going to beat these politically-driven charges. . (Attorney General Bill) Schuette should be looking at charges against the governor. What the governor has done to our school system, to communities of colors, to Detroit Public Schools, the Flint water crisis, why is there no convictions being placed against him?”

The felony charges were filed Tuesday by Schuette in connection with Banks allegedly submitting fake pay stubs while seeking a $7,500 personal loan on June 29, 2010, from the Detroit Metropolitan Credit Union.

An affidavit from Peter Ackerly, a special agent investigator with the attorney general’s office, filed in the case says Banks lied on his application using pay statements from IHI Attorneys + Consultants of Farmington Hills.

Gonek told the 36th District Court magistrate the loan was paid off and that “no one suffered any loss” as a result.

Banks said the loan was to pay for a course as he prepared for the Michigan Bar Exam.

The alleged incident occurred two years before Banks won election to the House of Representatives.

He is charged 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.

If convicted on the charges, Banks could face up to life in prison as a “habitual offender,” according to a court filing by Assistant Attorney General Michael Frezza, head of Schuette’s criminal section in Detroit.

Banks was convicted of eight other felonies before winning a seat to the Michigan Legislature in 2012.


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