TAYLOR, MICHIGAN, October 6, 2021 ~ Tuesday, federal prosecutors brought out new allegations against Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars for cashing campaign checks in exchange for cash and scratch-off lottery tickets at a party store in Taylor.
The allegations are part of a new criminal case against a new co-conspirator, while prosecutors are already expecting two others to plead guilty for connections with the case.
Downriver real estate developer Shady Awad is scheduled to plead guilty on October 22 for accusations of bribing Mayor Sollars with a free deck and wood flooring at Sollars’ lake house, according to a court notice.
“It’s no new news to us,” said Sollars’ Defense Attorney Todd Flood to 760 WJR’s Paul W. Smith. “These guys are probably cutting deals to save their own hide, and they are going to say whatever they are going to say.”
October 6, 2021 ~ Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars’ Attorney Todd Flood talks to Paul W. about the legal troubles involving Sollars and he says his client is innocent.
According to prosecutors, Sollars helped Awad, his company Realty Transition, and other developers gain control of dozens of tax-foreclosed homes in Taylor.
Awad’s plea hearing is scheduled nearly two years following charges against him, alongside Sollars, who were both involved in an alleged conspiracy consisting of bribes, tax-foreclosed properties and luxury items. Taylor Community Development Manager Jeffrey Baum is also involved. It is unclear if Awad is to cooperate against Sollars or Baum.
“At the end of the day, this program that they start off with, the buyback program of forfeited houses, it’s all ran by the city, by city council,” said Flood. “My client has no influence on it whatsoever, it’s voted on and decided by the council.”
Attention was brought to the investigation when FBI agents stormed Taylor City Hall, as well as Sollars’ house and vacation home in Cement City. Sollars was indicted in December 2019 on federal bribery and wire fraud charges after being accused of helping Awad gain control of city-owned property in exchange for home renovations.
“Part of the process is handling the media and handling a client,” said Flood. “But he’s innocent, and we are going to have this case in a courtroom.”
“Unfortunately, we don’t necessarily win in the press, but we’ll win in the courtroom.”
Sollars indictment was unsealed and includes 33 counts against him. Sollars is facing up to 20 years in federal prison, and is currently free on a $10,000 unsecured bond.