By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com October 31 2002 1:00 AM ET
Andrew Reyes, the openly gay political activist who was missing for 18 months under suspicion of fraud, will appear in a North Carolina federal court Wednesday.
Reyes, a former Mecklenburg County, N.C., Democratic Party chairman, was arrested October 3 at the Mexican border after he crossed into the United States from Mexico near Otay Mesa, Calif. Authoritites say he had been living in Tijuana.
Reyes is accused of diverting $3.6 million from an accounting client to himself between 1998 and 2000. A September 13 indictment charges him with 15 counts of bank fraud, each carrying a maximum sentence of 30 years and a $1 million fine. He could face up to eight years if convicted.
Reyes first became known in Charlotte, N.C., as a voice of the gay community during a 1997 controversy over public funding for the gay-themed play Angels in America. Later he emerged as a major donor to Democratic candidates and became head of the local Democratic Party, making him Charlotte's first openly gay political figure. He mingled with Hollywood celebrities and President Clinton. In 1999 then-governor Jim Hunt named him to the state advisory council on Hispanic/Latino affairs.