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Michigan Police Chief is Sent to Prison for Fraud

— September 3, 2019

A Michigan police chief well-known for establishing a volunteer reserve force is sent to prison for fraud.

Michigan police chief, Robert Reznick, 60, well-known for building a volunteer reserve force in a small town was sentenced to prison for operating a firearms fraud scheme.  He told the judge at this sentencing he was “humbled, ashamed, and completely remorseful” regarding his actions.

Reznick originally pleaded guilty in March of this year to charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return and was sentenced by Judge Thomas Ludington, nominated by George W. Bush, to one year and one day in federal prison.  The former chief attorney, Mark Kriger, said the extra day qualifies him to earn “good time” while behind bars, which might allow Reznick to be granted a shorter sentence.

Prosecutors said Reznick “used his position as police chief in Oakley to buy firearms, ammunition and other equipment from suppliers at reduced rates.”  They also said Reznick “cheated on his taxes, failing to disclose his income from the sales of the guns and ammunition.”

Michigan Police Chief is Sent to Prison for Fraud
Photo by Karl Bewick on Unsplash

Reznick claimed in his plea agreement “the civilian reserves were his ready and primary customers for firearms, ammunition, police badges, uniforms, and tactical gear.”  He continued, however, “the weaponry was for police work, but he actually sold the goods to his reserve officers” and admitted he “used terrible judgment.”

He also admitted that he left out the information because, “I didn’t want to leave a paper trail.”  He owes greater than $124,000 in restitution and more than $4,500 in prosecution costs.  Standing before the judge in the federal court in Bay City, Michigan, Reznick said “it got out of control.”

During sentencing, Ludington noted he had received a stack of letters from the former chief’s supporters.  More than three dozen letters in support of Reznick were submitted to the judge – many from current and former law enforcement officials and village officials that echoed the words of Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole’s letter, stating, “it’s a rare occasion that I would write a letter to show support for person that is pleading guilty to a crime, however, I feel it’s important to tell you about my friend.”

Reznick had more than 100 reserve officers at the highest point in his career.  His supporters mentioned the good points of his service, including delivering hams and turkeys on holidays.  He seemed to always be looking out for the village’s residents.

The judge said the letters prove the police chief is “caring” but added, “This isn’t a one-time error of judgment,” opting to sentence him to prison rather than probation.  Reznick will remain free on bond until he gets a date to turn himself in, his attorney said.

Not everyone in the small town cared for Reznick.  Former village trustee Francis Koski said he is not a supporter of the chief.  He was in court during sentencing and stated, “The sad part is, there are so many great cops.  He’s the poster child for the opposite.”

Reznick did not profit directly from the donations, according to federal prosecutors, but the program provided him “access to and favors from some of the most wealthy and powerful individuals in southeast Michigan.”  They said, “the reserve program was as a pay-to-play system for badges and enhanced concealed carry permits.”


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