Vernell Reynolds was once a high-profile Miami cop. Now she has another high profile: embezzler. On January 6, federal prosecutors announced that Reynolds had been indicted in federal court on 16 counts of wire fraud in the theft of more than $200,000 from the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association (MCPBA), a union representing black law enforcement officers in the Miami-Dade County area. If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison for each count, plus forfeiture of all illegal proceeds. The action follows a joint probe by the IRS, the FBI, the Department of Labor and the City of Miami Police Department’s internal affairs division.
Reynolds, 46, a resident of Hollywood, Fla., was an officer with the City of Miami police department and president of the MCPBA. Her departure from each was a case of a small discovery leading to a big one. Last March, the City kicked her off the force after concluding that she embezzled $7,000 from a charity to pay for her son’s private schooling. Her remaining tenure at the benevolent association, which she headed during 2005-10, would be short-lived. From roughly September 2008 until June 2010, say prosecutors, Reynolds, without authorization, diverted funds from two credit union accounts, where member dues had been deposited, and transferred the money into her own accounts. She also allegedly falsified union financial reporting forms to conceal the thefts. Reynolds likely had a gambling problem because some the withdrawals had been made at casinos in South Florida and California. The MCPBA website describes its core values as “respect, integrity & teamwork.” Apparently, not everyone in the union got that memo.