FBI seizes $206K from Taylor mayor in corruption raid
FBI agents seized $206,493 from the home of Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars last month while investigating the Downriver politician for racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and money laundering.
The FBI revealed the seizure Friday, one month after a series of daylight raids that included searches at Taylor City Hall, Sollars' home and cottage, and the home and office of a city contractor.
The money represents two years' salary for Sollars, who is paid approximately $100,000 as mayor of Taylor.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment about the seizure, and Sollars' attorney could not be reached for comment Friday.
The seizure is the latest financial and legal issue facing Sollars, 45, who has not been charged with wrongdoing. Sollars has professed his innocence while he remains in office.
Federal prosecutors want to seize his home and vacation chalet in Lenawee County and have filed liens to have the approximately $600,000 worth of real estate forfeited to the government upon conviction.
The liens serve as a looming threat against Sollars and reference some of the most severe white-collar crimes prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Wire fraud and the racketeering charge are punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.
The Taylor corruption investigation appears to have flowed from an earlier scandal in Macomb County.
FBI agents wiretapped towing titan Gasper Fiore's phone three years ago and heard allegations involving Sollars and a lucrative towing contract, according to sealed court records that hint at the possible roots of a new corruption investigation.
An FBI wiretap affidavit obtained by The News in 2017 that included probable cause to keep listening to Fiore's phone calls gained new relevance in light of a series of FBI raids last month at Sollars' homes and Taylor City Hall.
The FBI raids last month included searches at the home and office of a city contractor Tuesday to determine if politicians pocketed bribes and kickbacks.
The searches at the home and office of Realty Transition owner Shady Awad in Allen Park provide a larger picture of an FBI public corruption investigation.
There have been no arrests during the ongoing investigation. It is unclear what, if anything, was seized from Awad's home or office on the 14000 block of Southfield Road because the search warrant affidavits listing probable cause to search the locations have not been unsealed.
The searches targeted a firm that works in Taylor and other municipalities to rehabilitate hundreds of foreclosed and distressed properties. Realty Transition is active in at least 15 local communities, including Detroit, Canton Township, Dearborn, Ecorse, Melvindale, Romulus, Southgate, Westland and Wyandotte, according to the company's website.
Sollars touted the city's partnership with Realty Transition in 2015 as a way to revitalize 95 tax-foreclosed properties. The city purchases properties and transfers the homes to developers, including Realty Transition, which restores the properties before renting or selling them.
Taylor city officials have refused to reveal what was seized during the city hall raid but a legal fight could soon provide details.
Wayne County Circuit Judge David Allen ordered the city to release search warrant records that the FBI left with city officials after the search, attorney Andrew Paterson said Friday. Paterson had sued the city to obtain the search warrant records, including copies of any subpoenas.