Raid of Taylor mayor's office sought personal, campaign records and casino activity, records show

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
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FBI agents carry boxes into Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars' office at City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.

Taylor — FBI search warrant records released Wednesday reveal new information about an ongoing public corruption investigation involving the mayor of Taylor.

During a Feb. 19 raid of the City Hall office of Mayor Richard Sollars, located at 23555 Goddard Road, the FBI searched for records linking the mayor to property management owner Shady Awad, records involving the mayor's personal and campaign finances, and his casino activity, the warrants show.

The FBI searched Sollars' office for documents related to "work contracted or done by Realty Transition LLC" and 40 other companies owned or controlled by Awad. They also seized all electronic equipment used by Sollars or by the Committee to Elect Richard Sollars, along with records pertaining to the committee.

Federal agents also searched for records linking Fiore Enterprises, Fiore LLC, likely related to imprisoned towing titan Gasper Fiore

The exact nature of the investigation was unclear, but the searches come amid questions about Taylor police officers pocketing vehicle inspection fees and allegations that Sollars and a city councilman received kickbacks from a towing contractor.

More: FBI wiretaps in Fiore case led to Taylor mayor

An FBI wiretap affidavit obtained by The Detroit News in 2017 that included probable cause to keep listening to Fiore's phone calls gained new relevance in light of a series of  raids in February.

Since 2015, Awad has contributed $6,550 to the election campaigns of Taylor politicians, according to Wayne County campaign finance statements. Sollars received $2,250, the most of any Taylor politician. In all, Awad and Realty Transition employees have contributed $25,760 to political campaigns since 2015, including politicians in Romulus, Westland and Dearborn.

Federal agents also searched for records related to Sollars' casino activity including betting slips, casino player cards and ledgers of money won or lost along with any locked safes. 

The office of Jeff Baum, the community development manager of Taylor and the mayor’s campaign treasurer, also was searched for any financial documents involving the Mayor's Office with outside properties. FBI agents seized a black checkbook, three checks and various financial documents from Baum's office, the records show.

Sollars' secretary, Kimber Dorton, also was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury on March 27 with requests for her to provide any checks from Awad's property management company to the city of Taylor, including a check dated July 10, 2016, for $40,000.

The FBI declined to comment Wednesday on the search warrants.

Sollars, 45, was elected mayor of the Downriver community 17 miles west of Detroit in November 2013 following two terms on the City Council and a career in private business as a partner of three Romulus-based manufacturing companies.

Sollars has not been charged with wrongdoing and professed his innocence while he remains in office. Requests for comment from Sollars' lawyer were not immediately returned Wednesday night.

On Feb. 19, FBI agents were spotted carting documents and other evidence from Sollars' home in the 22000 block of Hunter Circle in Taylor. Simultaneously, an FBI team searched the mayor's $300,000 vacation chalet overlooking Silver Lake, about 80 miles west of Detroit and near Michigan International Speedway.

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 has said. Paterson had sued the city to obtain the search warrant records, including copies of any subpoenas.
Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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