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Press Release

Former Taylor Mayor pleads guilty to Bribery Conspiracy and Wire Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

DETROIT – Richard Sollars, 49, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison. The charges were in connection with the City of Taylor’s Right of First Refusal (“ROFR”) Program and also involved a scheme to defraud donors to Sollars’ election campaign account by fraudulently using donated funds for his personal benefit.

U.S. Attorney Ison was joined in the announcement by Devin J. Kowalski, Acting Special Agent-in- Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to court records, between 2016 and 2018, Sollars exercised his authority and influence as Mayor and recommended to the Taylor City Council that Awad’s company, Realty Transition, be awarded the majority of the tax-foreclosed properties that the City had or would acquire under its ROFR program. This was a program designed to allow Taylor to acquire tax-foreclosed properties from Wayne County for redevelopment. Sollars recommended Realty Transition for the ROFR program, intending to be influenced and rewarded by the free home renovations and other items of value that Awad provided to Sollars for his personal residence, office, and lake house.

As part of his election efforts, Sollars established a campaign account entitled, “Committee to Elect Richard Sollars, Jr.” Sollars engaged in a scheme to defraud his donors by fraudulently using funds that were donated for his personal benefit rather than for his political campaign. In furtherance of the fraudulent scheme, Sollars directed his campaign treasurer to provide him with a signed blank check from his campaign account. Sollars then made that check payable to Dominick’s Market in the amount of $5,600, purporting to represent payment for catering services provided to the campaign. The owner of Dominick’s Market, Hadir Altoon, prepared a false invoice purporting to reflect a bill for $5,600 in catering services for a 2018 Superbowl party at City Hall. As known to Sollars, Dominick’s Market did not provide catering services worth

$5,600 and instead cashed the campaign check and gave some of the money to Sollars for Sollars’s personal use.

The bribery conspiracy count to which Sollars pleaded guilty carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

“Sollars, as the Mayor of the City of Taylor, betrayed the trust of the citizens and the voters who supported him by awarding city contracts and spending campaign funds for his personal gain.

Today’s plea represents my office’s commitment to hold accountable those elected officials who place their own greed above of their duties to the citizens in the community,” U.S. Attorney Ison said.

“The former Mayor effectively eroded the faith of those who entrusted him with his office,” said Devin J. Kowalski, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “No one is above the law and the FBI remains committed to combatting public corruption and following the facts wherever they may lead.”

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Frances Carlson and Robert Moran.

Updated August 23, 2023