Walter Reynoso, Vigorously Defending the Presumption of Innocence
When the Eastern District of New York indicted top officials at FIFA, the world’s soccer community was rattled. Indictment after indictment followed at all levels of organized soccer, including within CONMEBOL, the organization responsible for South American soccer. With rampant corruption throughout these organizations, those caught in its crosshairs found themselves swept into the government’s investigation. One official that was innocently implicated had to choose among 6 prominent federal attorneys to help him maintain his innocence. He chose Coral Gables criminal defense attorney Walter A. Reynoso and it was the right choice. After months of hard work, the official’s sterling reputation remains sound.
“Our law firm represents many executives, accountants, attorneys and other professionals,” says Reynoso, who works with his daughter, attorney Kristen A. Reynoso, and paralegal, Stephan G. Schneider, at The Law Offices of Walter A. Reynoso, P.A. “But we never forget about the little guy. Defending someone’s liberty, rights and reputation goes to the heart of our justice system, and that is what continues to drive me in my work.”
Since launching his criminal defense practice in 1986, Reynoso has successfully represented many high-profile clients over the years, including corporations, professional athletes, politicians, doctors, attorneys and lead defendants in major felony, drug, and money laundering cases.
Reynoso represented Scott Olsen, a 23-year-old pitcher for the Florida Marlins, who was charged with two off-the-field felonies in 2006. “That jeopardized his contract, his career and ability to continue playing professional baseball,” says Reynoso. “We worked with his agents and Major League Baseball, and were able to get all charges dismissed. Scott went on to enjoy a successful career.”
A lifetime member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and past president of the Colombian-American Bar Association, Reynoso focuses his practice on white-collar criminal defense and trials in federal and state court. His daughter, Kristen, handles felony and misdemeanor matters in state courts. The two attorneys collaborate frequently in all their cases.
Born in Colombia, Reynoso came to South Florida in 1963 when he was four years old. “My mom and dad taught me the value of hard work,” he says. At Boston College School of Law, he was a staff writer for the Boston College Uniform Commercial Code Reporter Digest and he worked for the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, Enforcement Division.
Reynoso’s career got off to a strong start, handling one jury trial after another. “I earned a good reputation among my peers within the legal system,” he says, recalling a long, hard-fought trial in an eight-defendant case that he won on all charges. Afterwards, John Schlesinger, then assistant U.S. attorney, complimented Reynoso in a letter, saying, “It was a pleasure working with you as an adversary in this trial. Of all the attorneys involved in this case, you stood out as one of the finest and certainly the fairest and most ethical opponent I faced.” Reynoso framed the letter with the verdict, one of many “not guilty” verdicts framed throughout his office. “The verdicts are great testimonials. Each verdict states that 12 jurors considered the evidence presented by the U.S government against each client, and found each client not guilty of the charges brought by the Federal Grand Jury,” he says.
Over the past 25 years, the number of jury trials in the court system has decreased, Reynoso says. Today, he may only handle two or three trials a year, compared with a dozen or more annually in the 1990s. “With that gradual change in the justice system, my practice has shifted,” he says. “Now, we assist many clients who are the targets of grand jury investigations or federal indictments, with the goal of helping them avoid charges altogether.”
Among Reynoso’s recent legal victories, he represented a corporation and its owner that had been implicated in a massive federal money laundering case in St. Louis. “That investigation concluded with no charges to either the company or the owner,” he said. “The company continues to flourish and employs well over 200 employees in South Florida, South America and China.” Another victory came in 2016 with the dismissal of all state charges for a medical doctor in South Florida that was accused of sexual assault and battery by several women. In 2007, federal prosecutors in St. Lucie County indicted property owner Maria Valdes for conspiring to run a marijuana “grow house.” The alleged conspiracy involved multiple grow houses and a murder. Digging into the case, Reynoso was able to show that Valdes, a grandmother who was renting out the home, was unaware of the illegal operation. After many months of hard work, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the indictment. All other defendants were convicted, with one receiving a 30-year prison sentence.
With his daughter, Reynoso still goes to bat for “the little guy,” such as a young high school student who was charged with armed robbery; the 16-year-old emphatically maintained his innocence. Reynoso said, “This was a good kid who has a good future. He is close to graduating and is blessed with natural talents that will help him in life.” Reynoso convinced the State Attorney’s Office to dismiss the charges. “I’m confident he will earn a football or wrestling scholarship to help him pay for college.” After the criminal case was successfully closed, the school didn’t want the client to return. “Although the scope of my representation was technically completed, I was determined to make sure he graduated from his high school. I wrote the principal a letter explaining his innocence and thankfully that made the difference. He is back in school and back on the wrestling mat! Changing lives for the better — that’s what my practice is all about.”