FBI searches of a public official's home, office and getaway house usually don't end well -- a truism that now applies to Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars.
He's indicted on federal bribery charges, Robert Snell writes at The Detroit News. The Downriver city's leader is "accused of helping a developer obtain city-owned properties in exchange for free work on his home and vacation chalet," adds Thursday afternoon's coverage.
Also charged are builder Shady Awad (yes, that's his first name) and Jeffrey Baum, community development for Taylor.
Sollars, 45, was surrendering Thursday and is expected to make an appearance in federal court in Detroit.
The 37-page indictment chronicles a conspiracy spanning 2015 to this year that entangles the downriver politician's political campaign and features incriminating text messages and secret payoffs that included a $1,600 humidor — which Sollars demanded be filled with Cuban cigars.
Agents last April took $206,493 from a safe in the mayor's house while investigating suspectred racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and money laundering. Sollars earns $100,000 a year.
In a 20-minute, self-financed video released last week, he said the stacks of $100 bills were gambling winnings. "This will cost me my entire life savings to defend my name," he told former WDIV reporter Kevin Dietz.
FBI agents last spring also searched a $300,000 lakefront chalet in in Lenawee County owned by Sollars and his wife, Alicia, and placed liens against both properties in preparation for seizure if the mayor is convicted.
Snell summarizes the federal case:
Sollars is accused of helping Awad's real estate development company, Realty Transition [of Allen Park], obtain tax-foreclosed properties owned by the city.
In exchange, Sollars received thousands of dollars in cash, more than $30,000 in renovations to his home, more than $11,000 in renovations to his lake house near Cement City and more than $12,000 in new household appliances, according to the indictment.
Here's why the government makes this a priority, according to an emailed statement from U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider in Detroit:
"The unearthing of allegedly blatant corruption at the top levels of government in the City of Taylor should disturb every citizen of our state. Federal law enforcement will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute any public officials who chose their personal greed over their public oath."