BAY CITY (WJRT) (7/18/2019) - High-powered support seeking leniency for former Oakley Police Chief Robert Reznick wasn't enough to keep him out of prison.
A federal judge sentenced Reznick to more than a year behind bars and a year of supervised release after years of controversy and court battles.
He also must pay more than $124,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, along with other fines and costs.
Reznick pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax fraud back in March. But he was not taken into custody after the court proceedings Thursday and now must turn himself in to a federal prison in about 30 days.
Reznick faced up to 20 years in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines called for a 12 to 18-month prison sentence. U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington opted for the low end of the range at 366 days.
Before Thursday's sentencing, dozens of friends and colleagues sent letters to Ludington pleading for a probation sentence with no prison. Letters came from officials including Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole and Iosco County Prosecutor Brian Rapp.
Investigators say 60-year-old Reznick operated a sort of pay-to-play scheme with Oakley's reserve police unit. He used his position to obtain reduced prices on firearms, ammunition and other equipment from suppliers, then sold it to reserve officers for personal profit.
Reznick claimed the weapons and ammunition was used for police work, but most of it never was.
Reznick recruited a roster of approximately 120 reserve officers, most of whom lived outside of Oakley. They included singer Kid Rock. The town has about 300 people.
Controversy over the reserve unit started in 2013 and has divided the town ever since. Village council members eventually disbanded the reserve program and Oakley now has one part-time police officer.
Former Oakley Village Council member Francis Koski was not pleased with the sentence handed down Thursday.
"He walked out of there today with a gift, and the people who turned around and said they supported an admitted felon, you are not a public servant as far as I'm concerned," he said.
Bar owner Dennis Bitterman and his wife, Shannon, filed the first lawsuit over Oakley's secrecy about the reserve unit. She still feels the community still doesn't know the whole story.
"There's a lot more than that under the table that we will probably never know," Shannon Bitterman said. "I will be looking for FOIA's in the future with the federal government, I can assure you that."
Reznick said in court that he had the best intentions for expanding Oakley's reserve police unit, but he acknowledged he should have managed it better.
He could not be reached for comment after Thursday's hearing. His attorney, Mark Kriger, said he was disappointed that Reznick didn't get a sentence of only probation.