Investigation Thwarts Brazen Bribery Scheme
An attorney, an elected official, and a businessman
engaged in an outrageous corruption scheme, but the FBI thwarted their efforts.
Nov. 16, 2022
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“We were able to intercept him
in real time accepting and demanding bribes,” said Special Agent Robert
who investigated this case out
of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. Agents also saw Reynolds accepting a cash
As a local legislator in the
10th largest Michigan municipality, Reynolds used his connections for capital
Reynolds made sure to have
connections in the garbage industry, one of the township’s biggest expenses.
On the other end of several
phone calls was Chuck Rizzo, president of Rizzo Environmental Services, Inc.
Rizzo’s company had one of the
largest and most lucrative garbage businesses in Southeast Michigan.
He offered Reynolds bribes to
secure favorable contracts. He spoke specifically about securing Reynold’s vote
on an $18 million contract.
In exchange for the lucrative
contract, Rizzo paid Reynolds’ divorce expenses.
Rizzo asked his lawyer Jay A.
Schwartz to provide a variety of services, including advice about how to
commit bribery and divorce
counsel for Reynolds. Schwartz agreed. A subpoena of his billing software
confirmed that $40,000 worth
of legal services were provided for free.
As the divorce went on,
Reynolds fought a custody battle that required a psychological evaluation.
Another wiretap caught
Schwartz proposing that a third party could pay for it; however, that person
needed to have one very
“[Schwartz] talked about
finding a third party who could hold up on the witness stand if ever
questioned under oath about
where the money came from.
You have an attorney, an
officer of the court, proposing a bribery scheme with a view towards perjury if
hiding it from a judge,”
Schwartz swindled an
unsuspecting family friend into the scheme.
- Schwartz was sentenced to 27
months in prison and fined $250,000.
- Rizzo was sentenced to 66 months in 2018.
- Reynolds was
sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2019.
- A total of 22 people were indicted in the
The FBI prioritizes these
cases because systemic corruption can cause a domino effect leading to
general mistrust of
“There are places in the world
that have given up. They have corruption at such a level that their governmental systems have
completely failed,” Beeckman said.
“The public there has no
confidence in the people who run their country.
We’re not there in this
country, and we have no intention of getting there.”
Bribery is a federal crime. If you suspect it, contact the FBI.
A common worry is that if you
submit a tip, you will be the sole cause of an open
investigation about a public
official. This is not accurate.
Beeckman confirmed that a
public corruption case cannot be opened based on a single source.
“No detail is too small. You
could be the person who supplies the last bit of
information that we need—the
puzzle piece that makes it all make sense,” he said.
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