Monday, April 19, 2021

Prosecutors indict Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars on fraud, bribery charges

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An indictment was unsealed Thursday, revealing Mayor Rick Sollars and two others were indicted on multiple charges.

According to the indictment, Sollars helped Shady Awad’s real estate development company to obtain multiple tax-foreclosed properties owned by the city. In return, the court documents allege, Awad gave Sollars thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of dollars worth of renovations and appliances.

The appliances included a refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher, vacuum, washer, drier and a $1,600 cigar humidor. Renovations given to Sollar’s two residences was estimated to be more than $41,000.

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The free renovations provided to Sollars by Awad include hardwood floors on every level of Sollars’s Taylor residence, hardwood floors at his lake house, a garage door, a new front door, cabinets and more.

A third listed in the indictment, Taylor community development manager Jeffrey Baum, allegedly also received bribes from Awad and another developer in exchange for help in obtaining foreclosed properties.

Sollars and Baum were charged with 18 counts of wire fraud, alleging the two defrauded donors to Sollars’s campaign fund.

The documents allege Sollars would take checks from his campaign account and write them payable to a particular market, claiming it was for catering for an event. Authorities said the market owner would instead cash the checks and give the cash back to Sollars with no catering provided.

The indictment said Sollars and Baum would direct campaign donors to write checks directly to the market for events that never occurred. Additionally, it’s reported Sollars and Baum would solicit and accept thousands of dollars in cash contributions that would not be deposited into the campaign fund.

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“The unearthing of allegedly blatant corruption at the top levels of government in the City of Taylor should disturb every citizen of our state,” said U.S. attorney Matthew Schneider. “Federal law enforcement will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute any public officials who chose their personal greed over their public oath.”

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