Criminal Justice News

Friday, April 27, 2012

Former City of Miami Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement Scheme

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Richard Walker, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations (DOL-OLRFI); and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), announced that Vernell Reynolds, a former city of Miami police officer and former president of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association (MCPBA), pled guilty today to one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343; and to one count of tax fraud, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1), on charges stemming from her embezzlement of MCPBA funds.

Sentencing has been scheduled for July 11, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Marcia C. Cooke. At sentencing, Reynolds faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud and three years in prison for the tax fraud.

On March 29, 2012, Reynolds was charged in a superseding indictment with one count of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and one count of filing a false tax return, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1).

According to documents filed with the court and statements made during today’s guilty plea, the MCPBA is a private association of Miami law enforcement officers that operates in Miami-Dade County. To conduct its affairs, the MCPBA maintained two credit union accounts. The funds in the accounts were held in trust for the benefit of the MCPBA. Reynolds became the president of the MCPBA in early 2005 and soon thereafter was granted access to the MCPBA credit union accounts. In November 2007, Reynolds was issued an ATM/debit card that accessed the two MCPBA credit union accounts.

During the plea, Reynolds admitted that from at least September 20, 2008 through December 2009, she used MCPBA funds for her personal benefit. Reynolds also admitted that during this time frame, and on multiple occasions, Reynolds used the debit card to withdraw cash from the MCPBA accounts at various ATMs located in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. In addition, Reynolds directed the transfer of funds from the MCPBA credit union accounts into her personal credit union accounts. Reynolds also admitted that made certain fraudulent statements to effect her embezzlement.

Reynolds also admitted that in 2010, she filed a tax return with the IRS that under-reported her income, which resulted in a tax loss to the IRS. She also admitted she filed the return under oath stating that it was true and correct.

In her signed plea agreement, Reynolds admitted to an abuse of trust and agreed to an order or restitution to the MCPBA in the amount of $210,664. Reynolds also agreed to surrender any and all licenses or certifications to be employed as a law enforcement officer to the appropriate licensing authority. She also agreed to cooperate with the IRS to address her tax liability.

Mr. Ferrer commends the investigative efforts of the FBI, the DOL-OLRFI, and IRS-CID. Additionally, Mr. Ferrer thanks the city of Miami Police Department Internal Affairs Section-Anti-Corruption Unit for their significant work on this matter and for their full cooperation throughout the investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared E. Dwyer.

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