Corrupt former Macomb politician lied about cancer, feds say

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Dean Reynolds

Detroit — A corrupt Macomb County politician who launched a bid to be released from jail lied about having cancer, lied about his mother's medical problems and essentially committed wire fraud while asking donors to give him $10,000, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

The lies by former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds were revealed in hundreds of recorded phone calls he made from the St. Clair County Jail, where he is being temporarily held pending designation to a federal prison, according to the government.

Reynolds, 51, has been jailed since June 21, when a federal jury convicted him of 14 bribery-related charges stemming from the Macomb County corruption scandal.

The real reason Reynolds wants out of jail pending sentencing is he wants to try to save his marriage, prosecutors said. Prosecutors want U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland to keep Reynolds in jail, citing a pattern of lies and deception since the disgraced politician was convicted last month.

Former Clinton Township trustee Dean Reynolds is led to a van outside federal court in Port Huron after being convicted of bribery and bribery conspiracy charges on Thursday, June 21, 2018.

"The defendant lied about his cancer diagnosis to the court under oath. He lied to his attorney and concealed facts about his mother’s health to gain his freedom," Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta and David Gardey wrote in a court filing Thursday. "He attempted to manipulate letters from his doctors. And he currently possesses multiple firearms in violation of federal law which he plans to possess if the court releases him on bond." 

There was no immediate comment from Reynolds' defense lawyer Stephen Rabaut.

Reynolds asked to be freed on July 13, saying he had kidney cancer and that his mother was ill and in hospice care.

After Reynolds made the request, FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman started listening to hundreds of the former public official's recorded jail phone calls.

"The calls revealed that the defendant deceived the court about having been diagnosed with kidney cancer and his mother being placed in hospice care," prosecutors wrote. "Equally clear from Agent Beeckman’s additional investigation is that the defendant’s desperation to be released from custody stems not from an urgent medical need, but rather from a desire to be released in order to try to save his troubled, fledgling marriage."

The government is concerned Reynolds could harm himself or others if released on bond pending an Oct. 25 sentencing that could put him in prison for decades. He stood trial in federal court after rejecting a plea agreement that called for him to plead guilty to two counts of bribery conspiracy and be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

During the trial, jurors heard government testimony, wiretaps and secretly made recordings between Reynolds, waste hauling contractors and FBI agents that reflect the exchange of thousands of dollars and free legal services in exchange for Reynolds’ political influence in obtaining lucrative township contracts for former trash company CEO Chuck Rizzo.

Reynolds was the first person to stand trial in a Macomb County corruption scandal that has led to federal charges against 20 contractors and public officials and produced more than 15 convictions, including Rizzo and towing titan Gasper Fiore.

Former Rizzo Environmental Services CEO Chuck Rizzo leaves the federal court building in Port Huron last November.

Many audio and video recordings presented to jurors came from Rizzo, who became an informant with the U.S. Attorney’s Office as part of a plea deal. Rizzo has been sentenced to more than five years in prison and fined $250,000 for bribery and embezzlement charges.

Reynolds knew four months ago that tests showed he did not have cancer, prosecutors said Thursday.

"Yet, he had no hesitation in boldly lying to the court and committing perjury," prosecutors wrote.

During the last month, Reynolds has schemed to get a doctor to say that he had cancer, jailhouse phone calls show, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors cited phone calls between Reynolds and his wife.

Reynolds: "I need to prove I got kidney cancer."

 Wife: "I know that. I know all that."

Reynolds: "So, but, but the letter’s got to say that I was diagnosed with kidney cancer."

Wife: "I understand what it needs to say. I have no control in what they’re gonna say."

Reynolds was unhappy to learn he was cancer-free, according to another call with his father that referenced a letter from Reynolds' physician.

Father: "I got a letter."

Reynolds: "What’s it say?"

Father: "They do not say in it that you have cancer."

Reynolds: "What the heck. What's it say?"

Father: "‘Fortunately, the pathology report revealed no evidence of cancer. So no further treatment was required …’"

Reynolds told his father to throw the letter in the garbage, prosecutors said.

Separately, Reynolds essentially perpetrated a wire fraud scheme in the spring of 2018 to raise money, prosecutors said.

"He claimed on the funding website that he had 'stage 3 kidney cancer' and needed to raise $10,000," prosecutors said. "Reynolds’ medical records reveal, however, that Reynolds has never been diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer. Instead, his physician indicated that kidney cancer is merely a possibility."

If Reynolds had a legitimate, urgent medical condition, the U.S. Marshals Service could transport him to a medical facility, prosecutors said.

"Moreover, the defendant could move to expedite his sentencing and designation if he preferred to be sent to one of several Bureau of Prison medical centers that could treat him," the prosecutors wrote.

Reynolds also had failed to surrender firearms after being charged in federal court, according to the filing.

"In a different call, Reynolds indicates that he has seven firearms at his residence," prosecutors wrote. "It appears that Reynolds was in possession of these firearms while he was on bond before and during the trial in direct violation of his conditions of pretrial release."

(313) 222-2486

Twitter: @robertsnellnews