Beleaguered State Rep. Banks back in court fighting fraud charges

- Embattled state Rep. Brian Banks' political career and freedom could be determined in the next few weeks.

Banks' attorney Ben Gonek argued in Wayne County Circuit Court Friday - where Banks faces four felony charges - that some of the evidence against the Detroit Democrat should be quashed. Gonek said that the allegedly phony pay stubs Banks used to obtain a credit union loan about six years ago were not financial instruments and therefore could not be used as evidence against him.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Hathaway considered Gonek's argument, but said the law was broadly written and included pay stubs. He scheduled Banks' trial for Feb. 6.

Gonek also argued, as he has since Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged Banks with four counts of fraud last summer, that the case was politically motivated. He cited the amount of time between the alleged fraud and the filing of charges, as well as the timing of the charges and the difference in political parties. The charges were filed in the midst of a hotly-contested race for the Democratic nomination for the state house seat Banks has held since 2013.

Schuette is a Republican, who Gonek has accused of favoring one of Banks' rivals.

Hathaway ruled during a December court hearing that the crucial question is not why the charges were brought, but whether Banks broke the law.

Gonek also argued that Banks did not defraud the credit union because he eventually paid back much of the loan. A former associate of Banks has testified that Banks used bogus documents that falsely claimed he made a hefty salary to help him to get the loan.

Hathaway said Banks' repayment of the loan did not negate the fact that he may have committed fraud to get it.

Prosecutor Oronde Patterson pointed out that Banks did not make any significant payment on the loan until after the credit union sued him - adding legal costs to the amount of money the credit union lost by doing business with Banks.

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