Rep. Earle Banks, D-Jackson, asks a question at the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson on Oct. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Longtime state Rep. Earle Banks, D-Jackson, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge of evading federal income taxes.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 21. Banks faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release according to court documents.

Court documents unsealed this month claimed Banks reported $38,237 in income on his 2018 federal tax returns even though he “knew that he had received more than $500,000 in additional income” that year — profit from selling real estate.

Banks’ attorney Rob McDuff said Wednesday, “Mr. Banks has cooperated with the U.S. attorney’s office and today had the opportunity to speak directly to the judge and admit that he made a mistake in failing to report on his tax return the proceeds from the sale of land that had belonged to his family for many years.”

Banks, an attorney and funeral home director, has served in the state House since 1993 and in 2012 ran unsuccessfully for the state Supreme Court.

Banks is unopposed for reelection to his House seat this year.

While the Mississippi Constitution prohibits anyone convicted of most state or federal felonies from serving in the Legislature, section 44 of the constitution exempts federal tax crimes as a disqualifying offense.

“This section shall not disqualify a person from holding office if he has been pardoned for the offense or if the offense of which the person was convicted was manslaughter, any violation of the United States Internal Revenue Code or any violation of the tax laws of this state unless such offense also involved misuse or abuse of his office or money coming into his hands by virtue of his office,” the Mississippi Constitution says.

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.