Prosecutors are recommending that a federal judge send former Kentucky Rep. Carl "Chris" Perkins to prison for 15 to 21 months for bank fraud, lying to federal election officials and signing false financial disclosure statements.

Perkins, 40, pleaded guilty Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington in a case that included allegations he kited checks at the House Bank.He was released on his own recognizance until March 13, when he is scheduled to return for sentencing. The maximum penalty for the offenses is 40 years, $1.5 million in fines and three years of supervised release. Federal law does not provide for parole for the offenses.

Although the judge can impose any sentence up to the maximum, Lamberth told Perkins his sentence probably would not be that harsh.

The case was prosecuted by the Justice Department's House Bank Task Force, which was formed in December 1992 to investigate widespread writing of checks with insufficient funds and other improprieties related to the now-closed bank.

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Perkins, a Democrat, represented Kentucky's 7th Congressional District from 1984 to 1993.

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