A Loudoun County newspaper owner and political operative has pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of wire fraud in a bid to secure funding for his publication and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Brian Reynolds, owner and publisher of the on-again, off-again Loudoun Tribune, entered the guilty pleas as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office in the Eastern District of Virginia. Per the plea, 10 additional counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to the FBI will be dropped.
Reynolds faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud count and a maximum of 10 years in prison for the firearms count when sentenced Sept. 13. Prosecutors noted actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.
An indictment shows that Reynolds, of Leesburg, created phony advertising contracts and lied to advertisers and potential clients of the Loudoun Tribune about the financial state of his company, securing more than $500,000 in the process.
According to the U.S. District Court, Reynolds allegedly made false and fraudulent representations regarding the Loudoun Tribune's historical advertising revenues and the amount of money that Reynolds and others had invested in the company, falsely claimed that another individual had agreed to “match” the investments of certain investors, falsely claimed to at least one investor that the company lacked any debt, understated the amount of debt owed by the company to other investors and materially overstated the amount of money held by the company in its bank accounts.
The Sterling-based newspaper printed several issues but operated primarily online. It has not published new content in recent months. An "about" section at LoudounTribune.com states the company is "committed to the highest standards of fairness and integrity in [its] news coverage."
Reynolds, a convicted felon from the 1990s, also lied to the FBI in 2017 about owning guns. According to the indictment, he illegally owned at least eight guns and five boxes of ammunition.
More than 20 years ago, Reynolds was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison for wire fraud and forgery charges.
Reynolds in 2015 served as a media adviser and consultant for the campaigns of Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) and former Loudoun County Chairman Scott York. Additionally, he completed design and website work for numerous other GOP candidates.
Reynolds' case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, or PSN, which prosecutors say is an evidence-based program aimed at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, various stakeholders work together to identify violent crime problems in a community and develop solutions to address them. PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Charles Dayoub, acting special agent in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office's Criminal Division, made the announcement Monday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Burke and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg are prosecuting the case.