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Former police chief pleads guilty in bizarre celeb gun ring


For $1,000 or more, maybe you too could have been a reserve officer for the Oakley Police Department.

That’s how much it cost to buy into a gun ring being run by former Police Chief Robert Reznick, according to court filings.

Maybe you remember the story when it was national news a few years back. Reznick worked for the Village of Oakley, population just 362, yet he maintained a roster of some 120 “reserve officers.” Federal prosecutors say actually, they were mostly well-known rich guys from out of town – including Kid Rock, a member of the Detroit Lions, and Detroit-area developers and executives, as MLive reported in 2015.

Reznick fought to keep the identity of his reservists a secret because, he said, ISIS might try to target them. “These are brutal people who absolutely have no value of life,” Reznick told theDaily Beast in 2015. “Whether or not it’s far-fetched doesn’t matter. Why would you want to put them in harm’s way?”

Here’s the scam: Reznick would use his position as police chief to buy guns, ammunition and tactical gear at a reduced price from suppliers, telling them he was making the purchases for police work.

Then, he’d turn around and sell them to his “reserve officers,” aka, his customers. Reznick’s sales included “shotguns with the capacity to hold 16 rounds” and “high-end firearms such as assault weapons and firearms customized with an Oakley Police Department badge.”

According to Reznick’s plea agreement, there were other perks as well:

“Reznick provided badges and police identity cards, and instructions on how to obtain an enhanced CPL (a law enforcement endorsement on licenses to carry concealed firearms), to all reserve officers.”

In return, the wealthy customers would help the village financially: 

"Reznick said $30,000 of the funds went into the town’s Playscape, renovated the Village Hall, fit the police department with a new cruiser and a golf cart, and helped officers acquire new shotguns," according to the Daily Beast (honestly, this whole article is so bananas, it's really worth a read. Come for the celebrity police reservists, stay for the stories about stolen knives.)

On Tuesday, Reznick pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false federal income tax return. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors are recommending a sentence of 12-18 months, followed by up to five years of supervised release.

They’re also asking the court to order Reznick to pay more than $124,000 in restitution to the IRS, and about $4,500 to the U.S. government for the cost of prosecuting him.

In 2016, state lawmakers passedlegislationaimed at regulating reserve officers, but a 2018 investigation by the Detroit Free Press found that "more than 3,000 serve as reserve officers or members of sheriff's department posses, mounted units and marine patrols. And the state does nothing to monitor them, despite some high-profile troubles."

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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