MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Miami cop who funded her gambling habit by stealing thousands from a black police officers association will learn her sentence Wednesday afternoon in federal court.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reports U.S. Judge Marcia G. Cooke will sentence Vernell Reynolds, who pleaded guilty in April to fraud and tax charges.
Reynolds was head of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association, founded by one the department’s first black police officers in 1946. The group advocates for black officers and devotes efforts to charity work to benefit the inner-city.
Several years ago, senior members of the group discovered thousands of unauthorized debit-card withdrawals from Reynolds.
She later was indicted on 16 counts of wire fraud for the embezzlement scheme that lasted from September 2008 to June 2010. The police department has since fired her.
Reynolds was accused of using an association-issued debit card to access its credit union accounts to make unauthorized cash withdrawals, personal purchases and money transfers to her personal credit union account. Thirteen of the withdrawals were made at the Seminole’s casino in Hollywood, and one was made at another Indian casino in California, records show.
Her lawyer, Peter Raben, told the Miami Herald in April that Reynolds was hoping for forgiveness.
“Even good and strong people battle demons and sometimes fail,” Raben said. “Vernell is remorseful and embarrassed by what has happened, and hopes that someday those who relied upon her and are disappointed in her will come to understand and forgive”
Reynolds is also facing state criminal charges.
In March 2011, Miami-Dade prosecutors charged her with grand theft and fraud.
Reynolds, who had earned more than $140,000 annually in 2007 and 2008, sent her son to private schools on scholarships meant for low-income children, according to state prosecutors. She is accused of falsifying tax returns, a birth certificate and other documents to make it appear her lower-income sister was the boy’s guardian, resulting in nearly $7,000 from the nonprofit agency Step up Students.
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