Michigan mayor charged with federal corruption and phone fraud

The mayor of Taylor, Michigan, has been criminally charged in a federal indictment on a number of counts, alleging that he took tens of 1000’s of dollars in bribes wine from an actual property developer and stole over $ 200,000 from his personal marketing campaign fund.

Mayror Richard Sollars and the town's director of group growth, Jeffrey Baum, are accused of plotting with businessman Shady Awad to award contracts to Awad to develop the overwhelming majority properties seized by metropolis tax over a number of years in change for bribes, in response to a big indictment from the unsealed jury on Thursday within the US District Courtroom of Detroit.

The bribes included cash and $ 41,000 in renovations to Sollars' dwelling in Taylor and his lakeside dwelling, the fees laid. The renovations included hardwood flooring in each homes and a brand new deck in his lakefront dwelling, in response to the indictment. Sollars additionally obtained greater than $ 12,000 in new home equipment, together with a $ 1,600 cigar cellar, fees.

In October 2017, whereas in Las Vegas, Awad gave Sollars no less than $ four,000 in money for recreation cash, in response to the indictment.

Sollars was arrested on Thursday within the Detroit US District Courtroom on seven counts of bribery, one rely of conspiracy to commit bribery and 18 counts of wire fraud. Every rely is punishable by lengthy jail phrases of as much as 20 years and fines of as much as $ 250,000.

Sollars, standing subsequent to his lawyer, the eminent legal prosecutor Todd Flood, and along with his spouse within the listening to, led an harmless individual earlier than the American justice of the peace Elizabeth Stafford, who launched him $ 10,000 bond not assured. She ordered Sollars to remain in the USA, hand over her passport and chorus from contacting witnesses within the case.

In response, Flood instructed the choose, "My shopper is the mayor of the town of Taylor. There could also be witnesses that he has contact with staff of the town of Taylor", after which requested that Sollars be approved to speak. "maybe by way of intermediaries."

However the prosecutor, US deputy prosecutor Michael Bullotta, mentioned he didn’t plan to name metropolis officers as witnesses.

After the temporary listening to, Flood solely mentioned that "We stay up for listening to this case within the courtroom".

When requested if he would proceed as mayor, Sollars replied: "Completely." When requested by a reporter if there was something within the metropolis constitution that might forestall this in his legal case, he replied, "Completely not."

Earlier on Thursday, Awad was arrested in the identical courtroom and launched on an an identical $ 10,000 unsecured bond.

The magnificent 37-page federal indictment quotes Awad's cellphone textual content to an nameless entrepreneur who says his relationship with Sollars "is price $ 1 million, so all it would take , I'll pay it. "

The bribes have been in return for Awad's awarding of contracts to amass, redevelop and promote tax-seized properties within the metropolis, in response to the federal authorities. In 2015, for instance, Awad obtained the appropriate to redevelop the 95 properties seized by tax that 12 months.

Baum additionally obtained bribes, in response to the indictment, together with $ four,500 in money given to him in July 2018 by Awad.

The indictment additionally accuses Sollars and Baum of wire fraud for allegedly embezzling greater than $ 200,000 from the mayor's marketing campaign fund for the private use of Sollars. When FBI brokers raided the home and city corridor of Sollars final February, they seized $ 205,993 in money from his dwelling, the US Lawyer's Workplace mentioned in an announcement asserting the act of crime. # 39; accusation.

US prosecutor Matthew Schneider known as it "gross corruption" on the highest ranges of the town of Taylor's authorities.

The indictment lists a complete of 33 counts in opposition to Sollars, Baum and Awad.

Sollars beforehand denied any wrongdoing. In an interview earlier this month, Sollars and his spouse instructed freelance reporter Kevin DIetz that the cash seized from their dwelling was from Vegas and that they’d receipts to show it.

The 45-year-old Democrat has been mayor of Taylor since November 2013 and beforehand served on metropolis council.

Awad is the proprietor of Realty Transition LLC and Downriver Administration, in response to the indictment. The indictment alleges that Sollars was a "silent companion" in the true property affairs of Awad.

In addition to managing the town's group growth service, Baum was treasurer of Sollars' political marketing campaign fund, in response to the indictment.

The indictment was introduced by Schneider and Steven D & # 39; Antuono, head of the FBI discipline workplace in Detroit.

"The invention of suspected gross corruption on the highest ranges of presidency within the metropolis of Taylor ought to hassle all residents of our state," mentioned Schneider. "Federal legislation enforcement will proceed to aggressively examine and prosecute all public servants who’ve chosen their private greed over their public oath."

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