“Public corruption at any level undermines the community’s faith in their elected officials and does long-term damage to government institutions.”
(Steven D’Antuono, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the FBI)
The Mayor, along with his pals, allegedly used his elected office and campaign funds to enrich himself.
From the US Justice Department just before Christmas:
MAYOR OF TAYLOR AND TWO OTHERS INDICTED FOR BRIBERY AND FRAUD
A thirty-three count Indictment unsealed today charges City of Taylor Mayor Richard “Rick” Sollars, businessman Shady Awad, and Taylor Community Development Manager Jeffrey Baum with conspiracy to commit bribery in a scheme spanning from 2015 to 2019, United States Attorney Matthew Schneider announced. The Indictment also charges Sollars and Awad with seven counts of bribery each, and charges Sollars and Baum with 18 counts of Wire Fraud.
According to the Indictment, Sollars helped Awad’s real estate development company Realty Transition LLC obtain scores of tax-foreclosed properties owned by the City of Taylor. In return, Awad lavished Sollars with thousands of dollars in cash and over $30,000 in renovations to Sollars’s home, over $11,000 in renovations to Sollars’s lake house, and over $12,000 in new household appliances.
The appliances included a refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher, a $1,600 cigar humidor, a vacuum cleaner, and a clothes washer and dryer. The free renovations provided to Sollars by Awad include hardwood floors on every level of Sollars’s Taylor residence, hardwood floors at the lake house, a garage door, a new front door, cabinets, and a refurbished lake house deck.
The Indictment also alleges that Jeffrey Baum received bribes from Awad and another developer, in exchange for Baum’s help in obtaining tax-foreclosed properties from the City.
Text messages between Sollars, Awad, and Baum cited throughout the Indictment document the bribe scheme. In one text, Awad states as follows: “My relationship with Rick is worth $1 million so whatever it takes I’ll pay for it” in telling a contractor to do free work on Sollars’s lake house.
The Indictment also charges Sollars and Baum with 18 counts of Wire Fraud, alleging that Sollars and Baum defrauded donors to Sollars’s campaign fund in three ways. First, Sollars would take checks from his campaign account and write them payable to a particular market, purporting to pay for catering for one of Sollars’s events. Instead, the market owner would cash the campaign checks and give the cash back to Sollars, with no catering provided. Second, Sollars and Baum would direct Sollars’s supporters to write checks directly to the market for events that never occurred. Sollars would get cash and scratch-off lottery tickets from the market owner. Third, Sollars and Baum would solicit and accept thousands of dollars in cash contributions to Sollars’s campaign. Instead of depositing the funds into his campaign account, Sollars would simply keep the cash and use it for personal expenses.
The Indictment also seeks forfeiture of $205,993 in cash seized from Sollars’s home on February 10, 2019.
FBI provides readers with contact information if you suspect fraud or corruption with your local elected officials!
“Any time an allegation of corruption is brought to our attention, the FBI’s Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force will investigate it thoroughly. Public corruption at any level undermines the community’s faith in their elected officials and does long-term damage to government institutions,” said SAC D’Antuono. “With that in mind, we encourage anyone who believes they have information about corruption to contact the FBI at 313-965-4545 or tips.fbi.gov.”
I know I haven’t done a scientific analysis, but heck it sure seems that a very high percentage of my ‘Frauds and Crooks’ stories originate in Michigan!
For new readers: If you are interested in the issue of Refugee Resettlement (Michigan is a leading state that ‘welcomes’ more impoverished people), visit my other blog Refugee Resettlement Watch where I have been spending a lot of time in recent weeks.