Former Clinton Township trustee rejects plea, will stand trial

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published June 12, 2018

 Dean Reynolds

Dean Reynolds

METRO DETROIT — At press time, former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds had rejected a plea deal in relation to an array of charges he faces as a result of a Macomb County corruption probe, according to court records.

On May 30, Reynolds, 51, rejected an offer to enter a truthful guilty plea to two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery with guidelines commensurate to a 10-year prison sentence.

If found guilty following an impending trial, Reynolds could be sentenced to approximately 19 to 24 years. He currently faces 10 counts of bribery and four counts of bribery conspiracy.

At press time, barring a change of heart from Reynolds, he will stand trial beginning June 13 at the U.S. District Court in Port Huron.

“Having fully considered all the foregoing, it is my decision to reject the offer a negotiated guilty plea, even though it may have terms and conditions that are more favorable to me than if I were to be convicted at trial,” Reynolds said in a letter of understanding with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that was signed and dated May 22.

The plea rejection came just days after U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland issued an order denying Reynolds’ motion to suppress evidence utilized by FBI agents in accordance with the early stages of the county probe.

Cleland’s order followed a written opposition request by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Bullotta and David Gardey to deny Reynolds’ motion to suppress wiretap evidence in April.

One argument on behalf of Reynolds’ lawyer, Stephen Rabaut, of Clinton Township, centered around three 30-day wiretap orders issued by now-retired U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen.

The defense also argued that authorized wiretaps failed to meet the necessary requirements, with the court filing saying, “The affidavits dismissed traditional investigatory techniques in conclusory or categorical fashion, and they did nothing to distinguish this case from other public corruption cases such that a wiretap order should have issued.”

In his order, Cleland explained that Rosen properly satisfied the necessity requirement, saying that submitted affidavits are not “conclusory” or “categorical,” but rather detailed numerous traditional investigative techniques — including confidential sources, physical surveillance, undercover agents, search warrants, grand jury subpoenas, witness interviews, trash searches, pen registers and related tools, mail cover requests and financial investigations — and explained how each technique would be unlikely to succeed.

“While each technique was accompanied by an explanation of its insufficiency, a common theme pervaded: the secretive nature of the bribery scheme, the inability of witnesses outside the scheme to divulge its details, and the real potential that more traditional investigative techniques would expose the pending criminal investigation and undermine the ability to conduct any further work,” Cleland wrote.

Reynolds was the first of 20 total public officials and contractors who were arrested in relation to an ongoing bribery scandal involving former trash hauler Rizzo Environmental Services. A total of 15 convictions have been made as part of the probe, mostly by way of plea bargains.

That includes Gasper Fiore, of Grosse Pointe Shores, who was referred to by the FBI as a “towing titan.” He admitted at his plea hearing in December that he conspired to pay bribes to Reynolds in exchange for a municipal contract with the township. The bribes amounted to $4,000 and $3,000 in March and May of 2016.

That money was funneled to Rizzo CEO Charles Rizzo, who was originally indicted May 31, 2017, on five counts of bribery and three counts of conspiracy to commit bribery. His father, Charles P. Rizzo, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

On Nov. 9, both Rizzo and his father reached plea deals for cooperating with investigators. The younger Rizzo was sentenced April 23.

Reynolds’ final days in public office involved running against current Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon in the 2016 election, which he lost.

Rabaut has not responded to media requests throughout the legal process.