Clinton Township Trustee Reynolds arrested by FBI on bribery charges

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published October 13, 2016

 Dean Reynolds

Dean Reynolds


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Dean Reynolds, a member of the Clinton Township Board of Trustees since 2004 and the Democratic candidate for township supervisor, has been arrested by the FBI for his alleged involvement in a bribery scandal.

Barbara McQuade, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, announced Thursday, Oct. 13, that Reynolds, 49, was arrested by FBI agents based on a criminal complaint charging him with demanding and taking bribes in exchange for his vote on municipal contracts.

She was joined in her announcement by FBI special agent in charge David P. Gelios, and Manny J. Muriel, special agent in charge, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, of the Detroit Field Office.

“Corruption undermines the very nature of representative government,” McQuade stated in a press release. “Law enforcement is committed to seeking out and prosecuting corrupt public officials in all areas of the Eastern District, including suburban communities.”

Reynolds appeared in U.S. District Court in Detroit at 1 p.m. Oct. 13.

An FBI press release states that Reynolds is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, including demanding and accepting money and other things of value, in exchange for official acts as a trustee.

His arrest is part of an expansive and long-running investigation into systematic corruption in southeast Michigan, using telephone wiretaps, consensual audio and video recordings, undercover operations, physical surveillance, telephone tracking warrants and financial record subpoenas.

The complaint against Reynolds alleges that he accepted multiple bribes from a representative of a company that was seeking and secured a significant contract within Clinton Township. The report states that Reynolds collected between $50,000 and $70,000 in cash from that individual.

In exchange for the money, Reynolds reportedly sold his vote as a member of the Board of Trustees. He also provided voting information related to other board members.

In addition, Reynolds allegedly collected $17,000 in cash from an undercover FBI agent — a transaction that was video recorded.

“Today’s arrest should serve as a reminder to the public of the FBI’s longstanding record of successful public corruption investigations in the Detroit metropolitan area” Gelios said. “Betrayal of the public trust for personal gain will always be an investigative priority of the FBI and our partners in Michigan.”

The investigation is being conducted by the FBI Detroit Area Corruption Task Force — a multiagency task force led by the FBI Detroit Division and comprising the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division — as well as the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, and many other local and federal law enforcement agencies.

The document of complaint states that Reynolds’ alleged corruption took place on or around the dates of July 2015 to May 2016. 

It states that Reynolds “has engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity, including demanding and accepting money and other things of value, in exchange for official acts as a trustee.”

Reynolds is alleged to have violated 18 U.S.C. 666, which states: “Whoever … being an agent of … a State, local or Indian tribal government, or any agency thereof … corruptly solicits or demands for the benefit of any person, or accepts or agrees to accept, anything of value from any person, intending to be influenced or rewarded in connection with any business, transaction, or series of transactions of such organization, government, or agency involving any thing of value of $5,000 or more … shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.”

Robert F. Beeckman, special agent of the FBI, provided an affidavit in support of the complaint and subsequent arrest. He stated that he participated in monitoring and reviewing Reynolds’ recorded calls, which revealed a “conspiracy” between Reynolds and a representative of a company.

The vendor is documented as “Company A,” though recent allegations suggest that Rizzo Environmental Services — which provides trash pickup for Clinton Township and numerous other communities — is the alleged vendor that worked with Reynolds to receive $18 million in exchange for the township contract.

“We have been contacted by a number of people asking for our perspective on events that were reported (Oct. 14),” said Joseph Munem, director of government affairs and public relations for Rizzo Environmental Services. “In this, as in all matters, we’re cooperating with the legal authorities. We will follow their guidance so long as it may be required in the coming weeks.

“We will continue to focus on delivery of our services, and to demonstrate to our employees, partners and customers that we remain the premier provider of environmental services in our community.”

The complaint filed in court also alleges that the vendor provided a free divorce lawyer for Reynolds.

The affidavit describes a phone conversation between Reynolds’ friend — an attorney with a suspended law license — and Reynolds regarding the “performance of his free divorce lawyer.” Reynolds was upset that the free lawyer was allegedly going out of town for the funeral of a family member and was not going to be able to file a divorce pleading by a particular date.

In that exchange, Reynolds said the lawyer is “a quid pro quo.”

The conversation between Reynolds and the attorney friend went as follows:

 Reynolds: “Yeah, cause I don’t think (the businessman) is gonna be real happy if he doesn’t get his like, eighteen million dollar contract. Do you?”

Attorney friend: “No ... but you need to calm down before you ... call (him)”

Reynolds: “Should I tell (the businessman) that it’s ...? I mean, I’m scared it’s gonna get to a point that I’m not gonna be able to help anybody, if stuff starts happening, if the police gets called ... I’m just gonna be ...?

Attorney friend: “Yeah, you do ... You, you want to stay out of the papers.”

According to Clinton Township Board of Trustees meeting minutes, a discussion involving the approval of a contract extension with Rizzo Environmental Services — which includes new services —  took place Feb. 22.

The minutes state that Reynolds complimented the Refuse Committee for putting the contract together, and he lauded Rizzo’s large trash containers that are now mandatory for township residents.

He also made the motion to approve the contract, which was supported by a 7-0 vote.

The distribution of the carts is accompanied by a $1.75-per-month price increase in refuse, recycling and composting costs that will occur in April 2017. Currently, residents pay $13 per month.

Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon, who is facing off against Reynolds this November, said he was at a SEMCOG meeting on the morning of Oct. 13 when he began receiving a flurry of calls.

“It was kind of a different day when you have seven FBI agents at the township waiting to arrest one of your board members,” Cannon said. “It’s a sad day for Clinton Township residents who put their trust in a person who has allegedly betrayed it for his own personal benefit. It’s a sad day for a board, who has a member who sat on the board for 12 years who has betrayed all trust and confidence if it’s true.”

Cannon maintained that Reynolds is presumed innocent until found guilty, but he said he is “very disappointed” in these revelations.

At approximately 1 p.m. Oct. 14, the Clinton Township Board of Trustees issued a statement directed to Reynolds.

“It is our understanding that as a Township Board, we do not have the legal authority to remove you from your elected position as Township Trustee,” the statement read. “As individual board members we therefore ask that you remove yourself from participation in all Township functions and decision making during the investigation on your federal bribery charges.”

The letter was signed by Cannon, Treasurer Bill Sowerby, Clerk Kim Meltzer and Trustees Ken Pearl, Paul Gieleghem and Jenifer “Joie” West.

If convicted, Reynolds faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.