ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A former recycling manager at a Materials Recovery Facility operated by the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority pleaded guilty on Wednesday to racketeering after allegedly selling more than half a million dollars’ worth of recyclables through a shell company he owned.
Jarrell Lamar Reynolds, 45, was charged with organized fraud, money laundering, extortion and two counts of racketeering. According to court records, in return for his guilty plea on one count of racketeering, the other four charges were dropped.
In 2018, Reynolds was hired by the ECUA to manage the recycling operation at the Beulah Road waste management facility. According to his arrest report, ECUA hired him because of his experience in the industry and his personal contacts with potential new vendors and customers. ECUA said they believed hiring Reynolds would increase the efficiency of the recycling operation and increase their revenues through the introduction of new customers for their recyclable material.
On Dec. 5, 2018, Reynolds chartered a company called JAT Recycling in the State of Georgia. According to the arrest report, Reynolds used this company to receive funds from three legitimate ECUA customers and converted the proceeds of these sales to his personal use. The three companies, ASM Recycling, Wise Recycling and Cellmark, Inc., are all entities that purchased recyclable material in bulk and either process it themselves or transport it to other facilities farther down the supply chain where it can be turned into another form of viable, sellable product.
According to management personnel at Cellmark and ASM, they were led to believe that JAT was acting as a broker between ECUA and their companies. According to the arrest report, Reynold’s company kept all the proceeds and refused to have any additional contact with ECUA.
Recorded statements from ECUA employees said Reynolds left his position suddenly and without notice near the end of Jan. 2019, shortly after questions started to be asked by an ECUA auditor.
SunTrust Bank records indicate from Oct. 15, 2018, to Feb. 2019, a checking account, in the name of JAT Recycling/Jarrel Reynolds, received $510,685.06 from Cellmark, ASM and Wise Recycling. According to the arrest report, Reynolds withdrew $16,000 from the account to use as a down payment on a 2016 Porsche Panamera.
In March 2019, the ECUA Assistant Director of Finance sent JAT an invoice and received a response from JAT, which said, “Payments are pending due to the criminal investigation of Jarrell Reynolds. All commodities were legally sold to JAT Recycling and we take accountability of funds due. Please cease and desist all criminal actions against Jarrell Reynolds so we can move forward with getting this paid.”
According to court documents, Reynolds used the money taken to purchase cars, investment properties and other personal expenses. Court records said Reynolds was facing a maximum of 135 years in prison for all five counts, but after four of them were dropped after he took the guilty plea, the maximum sentence for racketeering is 30 years. The state prosecutor agreed to cap his maximum sentence at 10 years if the judge grants the maximum sentence.
Sentencing for Reynolds is scheduled for Feb. 17, 2023.