Port Huron — Former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison Wednesday for running four bribery schemes, the stiffest penalty delivered during a years-long crackdown on public corruption in Macomb County.
The judgment from U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland is one of the longest corruption sentences in Metro Detroit history and is 11 years shy of the sentence issued to former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Prosecutors asked for as much as 24 years in federal prison, a sentence that would reflect the "staggering" betrayal of Reynolds' constituents in Macomb County. In addition to the prison term, Reynolds was ordered to pay $15,000 in fines.
“The Court’s sentence today shows that public officials who violate the trust of their communities by taking bribes and betraying their oaths of office will not escape our pursuit of justice,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement.
Reynolds' sentence eclipses any other punishment issued in a political corruption scandal that has led to federal charges against 22 contractors and public officials and produced 17 convictions, including trash mogul Chuck Rizzo and towing titan Gasper Fiore. Rizzo is serving more than five years in prison while Fiore was sentenced to 21 months in August.
Reynolds, 51, gambled and lost. He stood trial in federal court last summer 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.
Instead, a jury convicted him of four bribery conspiracy counts and 10 bribery charges after deliberating for about one hour in June.
Reynolds is the only person to stand trial in a wide-ranging corruption scandal that started in Macomb County and spread to Detroit. The probe has led to charges against 22 people, including Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland.
Leland was among more than a dozen businessmen and politicians targeted in a wave of FBI wiretaps three years ago that recorded conversations involving public officials, including former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco.
Marrocco has not been charged with wrongdoing during the ongoing investigation.
His former right-hand man, former Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci is awaiting a May trial on charges that include bribery, extortion, fraud, theft and money laundering.
FBI agents secretly videotaped Bucci receiving a bribe and wiretapped the burner cellphone that was supposed to help him dodge law enforcement surveillance, according to court records that portray the indicted politician as an inept crook.
Agents had at least four wiretaps, including one on Bucci’s phone and one on his disposable “burner” phone — a cheap prepaid phone typically used by drug dealers, and quickly replaced, to avoid being tracked by investigators. In Bucci’s case, agents learned about the phone and tapped it, according to the filing.
Bucci gave $66,000 to FBI agents months after being indicted, a possible sign he is cooperating with a public corruption investigation targeting Marrocco, his former boss.
The FBI picked up the $66,000 from Bucci in February 2018 in Clinton Township, the same city where Bucci’s lawyers have offices. The $66,000 matches the amount of kickbacks prosecutors say Bucci received at one point from township contractor Christopher Sorrentino, who is cooperating with investigators.
“For Marrocco, this is not a good sign,” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor. “This could indicate Bucci is cooperating. When you turn over money, it is an acknowledgment that the assets are tainted.”