Detroit representative Brian Banks to head to trial on financial charges

A Detroit lawmaker is headed back to the Michigan House but he could end up in the big house, if the Michigan Attorney General has his way.

Banks was first elected to the House in 2012 and M.L. Elrick has been following his legal problems the entire way.

Banks' attorney, Ben Gonek, claims that Attorney General Bill Schuette is out to get him. Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Hathaway called that claim "speculative".

Gonek accused the attorney general of dredging up a six-year-old incident to bring criminal fraud charges against Banks. Gonek also theorized that Sschuette used an assistant attorney general to funnel money to the political campaign of one of Banks' opponents.

"Ms. Furtaw was just merely a straw donor for the Schuette administration and they used this prosecution when it was initiated to subvert the political process and to attempt to have Mr. Banks defeated," Gonek said.

At issue is a loan that Banks obtained in 2010 from a Detroit credit union. Banks claimed to make more than $92,000 working for a company, even though he didn't really work there.

The company's owner has testified that she helped him bamboozle the credit union.

Assistant Attorney general William Rollstin urged Judge Hathaway to reject Gonek's speculation and allow the case to go forward.

"He's put out some interesting fodder that might sound good on local radio, but at the end of the day the logical and factual connection is not even close here," Rollstin said.

He also disputed Gonek's claim that Banks repaid the loan, saying that he did not repay the loan and that he defaulted on it and was sued by the credit union.

"He initiated settlement negotiations with the small credit union, offered them 50 cents on the dollar but that was rejected. Ultimately settled it by only paying 90 cents on the dollar," Rollstin said. "The credit union in fact had to pay lawyers to get the 90 cents on the dollar and in no way was fully compenstated for what they went through by Mr. Banks' fraudulent activities."

Judge Hathaway said the key issue for the court is not whether the attorney general had ulterior motives when he charged banks, but whether banks broke the law ...

"The nefarious agenda of the charging party is frankly irrelevant and has nothing to do with whether mr. banks is guilty or not guilt," Judge Hathaway said.

Hathaway ruled that Banks will head to trial in Wayne County in 2017.

Banks had multiple convictions before he was elected to his position in the House.


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