News and Press Releases

FORMER CITY OF MIAMI POLICE OFFICER CHARGED IN EMBEZZLEMENT SCHEME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Miami Field Office, Richard Walker, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG), and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), announce the indictment of Vernell Reynolds, a former City of Miami police officer and former president of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association (MCPBA), on charges stemming from her embezzlement of MCPBA funds.

On January 5, 2012, Reynolds, 46, of Hollywood, Florida, was indicted on sixteen counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the offenses, including more than $200,000. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of thirty years’ imprisonment for each count of wire fraud.

According to the allegations in the indictment, 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 contained in the MCPBA credit union accounts consisted primarily of the monthly dues of the MCPBA members. The funds in the accounts were held in trust for the benefit of the MCPBA.

In 2005, Reynolds became the president of the MCPBA. As president, Reynolds had signature authority over the MCPBA credit union accounts. Reynolds also possessed and used an ATM/debit card that accessed the MCPBA credit union accounts. The indictment alleges that as early as September 2008, Reynolds began stealing money from the MCPBA accounts and using it for her own purposes. Reynolds’ scheme continued through June 2010.

According to the indictment, Reynolds made unauthorized withdrawals from the MCPBA credit union accounts, made unauthorized personal purchases with MCPBA funds and transferred MCPBA funds from the MCPBA accounts to her personal credit union accounts. The indictment alleges that some of these unauthorized withdrawals occurred at casinos located in South Florida and on at least one occasion in California. Reynolds failed to disclose her unauthorized withdrawals, purchases and transfers to the MCPBA members and presented false financial information to the MCPBA members to conceal her fraud.

Mr. Ferrer commends the investigative efforts of the FBI, the DOL-OIG and IRS-CI. Additionally, Mr. Ferrer thanked 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.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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