Judge slams cell door on corrupt Macomb politician

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
Dean Reynolds

Corrupt Macomb County politician Dean Reynolds lost a bid for bond Friday and his lawyer tried to give him the boot.

U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland refused to free Reynolds from the St. Clair County Jail while he awaits a fall sentencing date for his role in the Macomb County corruption scandal.

Reynolds claimed he needed to be released so he could undergo treatment for kidney cancer but the judge said recorded jail phone calls between Reynolds and relatives "at least" suggested the former Clinton Township trustee was trying to manipulate evidence.

The judge also noted Reynolds violated bond conditions by continuing to possess firearms.

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 court sees nothing new presented in defendant’s request for reconsideration, and nothing that would change its conclusion that defendant’s bond was properly revoked," Cleland wrote in a court filing Friday.

Hours after the judge refused to release Reynolds on Friday, the former Clinton Township trustee's lawyer asked for permission to withdraw from the case before Reynolds is sentenced.

Attorney Stephen Rabaut cited a breakdown in his relationship with Reynolds. The request came one day after prosecutors filed jailhouse phone call transcripts that suggested Rabaut had been deceived about the medical condition of Reynolds' mother.

In the request to withdraw from the case, Rabaut said he met with Reynolds in the St. Clair County Jail on Thursday but their relationship had deteriorated.

The judge's order was filed one day after federal prosecutors portrayed Reynolds as a crooked schemer who lied about having cancer, lied about his mother's medical problems and essentially committed wire fraud while asking donors to give him $10,000.

The real reason Reynolds wants out of jail pending sentencing is he wants to try to save his marriage, prosecutors said.

"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." 

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 was 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.

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.


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