MIAMI (CBS4)- A former City of Miami police officer is facing charges in connection with an embezzlement scheme.
Vernell Reynolds was indicted on 16 counts of wire fraud on Thursday, January 5, according to U.S. Department of Justice.
Reynolds,46, is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from several police benevolent fund bank accounts, dating back to 2008.
Reynolds is a former president of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association (MCPBA).
According to the allegations in the indictment, the MCPBA is a private association of Miami law enforcement officers that operates in Miami-Dade County. To conduct its affairs, the MCPBA maintained two credit union accounts, according to the DOJ. The funds contained in the MCPBA credit union accounts consisted primarily of the monthly dues of the MCPBA members. The funds in the accounts were held in trust for the benefit of the MCPBA.
In 2005, Reynolds became the president of the MCPBA. As president, Reynolds had signature authority over the MCPBA credit union accounts.
Reynolds also possessed and used an ATM/debit card that accessed the MCPBA credit union accounts.
The indictment alleges that as early as September 2008, Reynolds began stealing money from the MCPBA accounts and using it for her own purposes. Reynolds’ scheme continued through June 2010, the department reported.
According to the indictment, Reynolds made unauthorized withdrawals from the MCPBA credit union accounts, made unauthorized personal purchases with MCPBA funds and transferred MCPBA funds from the MCPBA accounts to her personal credit union accounts.
“The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the proceeds of the offenses, including more than $200,000,” the release from the DOJ read.
The department alleges that some of these unauthorized withdrawals occurred at casinos located in South Florida and on at least one occasion in California.
Reynolds failed to disclose her unauthorized withdrawals, purchases and transfers to the MCPBA members and presented false financial information to the MCPBA members to conceal her fraud, the DOJ reported.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty, the DOJ pointed out.
Reynolds faces thirty years behind bars for each count of wire fraud if she’s convicted.