A top Democratic mayor is facing up to 500 years in prison after being charged with 26 felonies.
Richard Sollars, the mayor of Taylor, Michigan, was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Detroit on seven counts of bribery, one count of conspiring to commit bribery and 18 counts of wire fraud.
Each count is punishable by as much as 20 years in prison and by fines of as much as $250,000.
If found guilty on all 26 felony counts and ordered to serve 20 years for each crime, he could be sentenced to 520 years in federal prison.
Taylor Mayor Richard Sollars has been criminally charged in a multiple count federal indictment alleging he took tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from a real estate developer and stole more than $200,000 from his own campaign fund.
Sollars and the city’s community development manager, Jeffrey Baum, are accused of conspiring with businessman Shady Awad to award Awad’s company contracts to develop the vast majority of the city’s tax-foreclosed properties over several years in exchange for kickbacks, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
The kickbacks included cash and $41,000 worth of renovations to Sollars’ house in Taylor and his lake home, the indictment charges.
The renovations included hardwood floors at both homes and a new deck at his lake house, the indictment said. Sollars was also given more than $12,000 in new household appliances, including a $1,600 cigar humidor, the indictment charges.
Sollars was arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit on seven counts of bribery, one count of conspiring to commit bribery, and 18 counts of wire fraud. Each count is punishable by lengthy prison terms as long as 20 years and by fines of as much as $250,000.
The FBI raided his mayor’s office back in February:
HAPPENING NOW… FBI agents are executing search warrants inside of the office of Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars. A team of agents are working "several locations" per Bureau. Updates @WWJ950 pic.twitter.com/M3HTdnEmic
— Jon Hewett (@JonHewettWWJ) February 19, 2019
INDICTED:#DEMOCRAT Mayor of Taylor #Michigan, Richard Sollars charged in a multiple count federal indictment alleging he took tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from a real estate developer & stole more than $200,000 from his own campaign fundhttps://t.co/2HJ4MrdOj5
— Smirky McSmirkerson 😏 (@WWG_1WGA_) December 19, 2019
Sollars pleaded not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford, who released him on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
She ordered Sollars to stay in the United States, to surrender his passport by 4 p.m. Friday and to refrain from contact with any witnesses in the case.
Asked whether he’d continue as mayor, Sollars replied, “Absolutely.”
Will Sollars serve 500 years in prison? It’s highly unlikely.
But the mere fact that he’s been charged with 26 felonies speaks volumes about the severity of his crimes and how federal authorities are apparently trying to hold him accountable for his actions.