News and Press Releases

Former City of Miami Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (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 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 3 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 ATM/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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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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