Clinton Township trustee charged with corruption

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

A Clinton Township trustee appeared in federal court Thursday on charges he demanded and took bribes in exchange for his vote on municipal contracts since 2012.

Dean Reynolds, 49, is accused of accepting $50,000-$70,000 from a company that secured a “significant” contract with Clinton Township, according to U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.

Reynolds also accepted $17,000 from an undercover FBI agent, which was recorded on video, officials said in a statement. A court filing does not name the company involved and McQuade’s office would not identify it to The Detroit News.

The criminal complaint includes a wiretapped phone conversation in July 2015, during which Reynolds allegedly refers to the businessman and bribes he is receiving in exchange for supporting an $18 million contract.

Robert Cannon, the Clinton Township supervisor, said the community only has one contract anywhere near $18 million. The contract is for trash hauling with Rizzo Environmental Services in Sterling Heights.

“The only company it could be is Rizzo,” Cannon said. “I hope it’s not them.”

Rizzo confirmed it is cooperating with investigators.

“In this, as in all matters, we’re cooperating with the legal authorities,” Rizzo spokesman Joseph Munem said in a statement. “We will follow their guidance so long as it may be required in the coming weeks.”

Reynolds appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford wearing a white collared shirt and dark pants with his hands and feet handcuffed.

Stafford set Reynolds’ bond at $10,000, ordered him to surrender his CCW permit and firearm and restrict his travel to the United States.

Reynolds showed no emotion in court and only acknowledged that he understood the conditions of his bond.

His attorney, Stephen T. Rabaut of Clinton Township, and family members declined to comment on the case outside court.

FBI agents showed up at the Township Hall at 8:45 a.m. Thursday looking for Reynolds. He was not there, Deputy Supervisor Elizabeth Vogel said.

“It was quite alarming to be greeted by seven of them,” she said.

According to McQuade’s office, not only did Reynolds sell his vote in favor of this company, but he allegedly provided information on how other trustees voted.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the arrest and corruption charges stem from an investigation into systemic corruption in several municipalities in southeast Michigan, mostly in Macomb County.

Investigators used telephone wiretaps, audio and video recordings by “cooperative individuals,” undercover operations and subpoenas of financial records and other documents in their probe.

Reynolds, a Democrat, is serving his third term on the township Board of Trustees since 2004. His term ends this year and he’s running for township supervisor against Cannon, the Republican incumbent, in the Nov. 8 election.

“I hope it’s not true but this doesn’t sound very promising,” Cannon said. “It gives a black eye to all the hard-working, dedicated, elected officials and public servants everywhere. Shame on him if he did this.”

Cannon said if Reynolds wins the election and is convicted of the bribery charges, he will be “removed from office immediately.”

A trustee will then be required to nominate a new supervisor who will need at least four votes from the board to be appointed. That person would serve until the 2018 gubernatorial election. If the board is unable to select a new supervisor, there will be a special election, Cannon said.

Robert Beeckman, special agent for the FBI, said in a court affidavit the evidence from wiretaps, video and an informant support a charge of theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Beeckman said the person who provided Reynolds the money, identified only as Cooperating Human Source 1 for Company A, was the subject of a telephone wiretap and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in their investigation.

Reynolds began asking the cooperating witness for money after Company A secured a contract with the township in 2012, according to the court affidavit. Reynolds reportedly said at the time that he was in “financial trouble.”

Beeckman said Reynolds also went through a divorce recently and needed money for a lawyer. The cooperating witness gave Reynolds the money he needed, the agent said in the court filing.

The complaint includes text from a wire-tapped phone conversation where Reynolds’ divorce attorney, identified as Lawyer B, asks Cooperating Human Source 1 to give Reynolds $5,000 for a psychological evaluation.

Macomb County court records show Reynolds filed for divorce from Tammy Reynolds in July 2015 and the divorce was finalized in April.

Records show two prior divorce filibribengs with the couple including one initiated by Tammy Reynolds in March 2014 and the other by Dean Reynolds in May 2014.

Reynolds and his ex-wife filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November 2014, listing more than $633,000 in liabilities.

Among his assets: a $42,000 pension from Clinton Township. Reynolds had negative income for two years before filing bankruptcy, according to court records.

In 2012, the couple lost $36,000 and $62,000 the prior year.

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

Reynolds’ preliminary examination is set for 1 p.m. Nov. 3.

Staff Writer Robert Snell contributed.