CHICAGO — A former U.S. congressman free on bond in a federal tax case says he’s not complying with a federal judge’s order and return to Chicago from a trip to South Africa.

Mel Reynolds told the judge in an open letter Thursday that he’s staying abroad to care for his ailing daughter in the African nation. Reynolds says his daughter is suffering from scoliosis and may also have cervical cancer.

Reynolds also asks U.S. District Judge John Darrah “to show some compassion and understand.”

Darrah on Wednesday refused a request by Reynolds for the court to let him stay abroad longer. Reynolds’ trial is set to start May 2.

The Illinois Democrat has pleaded not guilty on a misdemeanor charge of failing to file income tax returns.