DETROIT – Dominick’s Market owner and real estate developer, Hadir Altoon, 49, of Farmington Hills, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit bribery with Richard Sollars, Mayor of the City of Taylor, Jeffrey Baum, City of Taylor Community Development Manager, and Shady Awad, real estate developer, Acting United States Attorney Saima S. Mohsin announced.
Mohsin was joined in the announcement by Timothy Waters, Special Agent In Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
During his guilty plea hearing, Altoon admitted to paying bribes to Mayor Sollars by giving Sollars tens of thousands of dollars in cash, scratch-off lottery tickets, and other items of value, and facilitating the payment of bribes to Sollars by Shady Awad, in connection with the City of Taylor’s Right of First Refusal (“ROFR”) Program. The ROFR Program is designed to allow Taylor to acquire tax-foreclosed properties from Wayne County for redevelopment. According to court records, between 2017 and 2019, Altoon paid and/or facilitated the payment of over $80,000 in cash to Sollars and over $4,000 in cash payments and other items of value to Baum in exchange for Sollars’s and Baum’s assistance in obtaining tax-foreclosed properties under the City’s ROFR program. Altoon also conspired with Sollars to steal money from Sollars’s campaign fund by preparing false and inflated invoices for catering services that were never rendered, were prepared in amounts higher than the actual amount for the catering services provided, and/or were for catering services for which Altoon had already been paid by the City of Taylor.
In furtherance of the fraudulent scheme, Altoon issued the false invoices to Sollars’s campaign fund and completed blank campaign fund checks, bearing Baum’s signature as treasurer of the campaign fund, in the amounts of the false invoices. Altoon cashed the campaign checks based on the false invoices at his store, Dominick’s Market, and gave Sollars cash and/or scratch-off lottery tickets in same amounts of the checks, totaling over $35,000. Altoon also engaged in this same fraudulent conduct by accepting checks made payable to Dominick’s Market, purportedly for catering services to Sollars’s campaign, from donors to Sollars’s campaign. Altoon cashed the donors’ checks, totaling over $12,000 and gave Sollars cash and/or scratch-off lottery tickets in the total amounts of the checks. Altoon also facilitated Sollars’s bribery activities with co-conspirator Shady Awad by accepting credit card information from Awad and charging over $19,000 to Awad’s credit cards, which Altoon converted to cash and gave to Sollars. Altoon also converted blank money orders, totaling $3,000, into cash for Sollars and gave Baum $5,000 in cash for a Sollars campaign golf event. It was also part of the conspiracy that Altoon gave Baum gift cards and over $4,000 in cash. In exchange for the cash and other items of value Altoon provided to Sollars and Baum, another developer transferred two properties and Awad transferred nine properties, that were originally transferred to that other developer and Awad, respectively under the City’s ROFR program, to Altoon.
The bribery conspiracy count to which Altoon pleaded guilty carries a maximum sentence of 5 years of imprisonment. Under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, it is likely that Altoon will face a guideline sentencing range of between 27 and 33 months of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of up to $250,000.
Acting United States Attorney Mohsin said, “We will continue to unearth public corruption wherever we find it in this district. Those who persist in helping public officials deny the citizens of this district the honest services they deserve will be held accountable.”
“The corrupt activities uncovered in this case were facilitated by men whose desire for favorable treatment outweighed notions of integrity and fair play,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI’s Detroit Division. “Those who seek to influence public officials through bribery will be aggressively pursued and prosecuted.”
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison.