Two days before Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars was to deliver his State of the City address — a speech that would no doubt include the city’s progress on his watch — the FBI showed up at his home and office.
It was a raid, not a planned visit, and it took Sollars by surprise.
“I did not see anything coming,” Sollars told reporters Tuesday after FBI agents raided his home and office amid a broadening corruption investigation that has now planted a bulls-eye on the Downriver community of Taylor.
Sollars said he has no idea why the FBI is investigating him, but stressed:
“I am cooperating and will continue to do so, I will continue to work hard on behalf of the residents of of the city of Taylor to make sure that the people’s work gets done. I ask that you please respect my family’s privacy and the integrity of this investigation,” Sollars said outside his home.
Sollars also defended his commitment to public service.
“My track record speaks for itself … In politics everybody has an opinion and unfortunately along the way, you make a few enemies. Taylor has always been somewhat of a political hotbed.”
Sollars’ comments came as more than a dozen federal agents raided Taylor City Hall and Sollars’ house as part of a wide-sweeping corruption probe that has ensnared nearly two dozen crooked politicians and businessmen in two counties and the city of Detroit.
The FBI would not disclose any details about the investigation, though sources familiar with the case said it appears to be tied to a towing scandal and real estate transactions.
Karl Ziomek, a spokesman for the City of Taylor, declined comment on the raid, saying the city would issue a statement by Wednesday.
The FBI declined to comment on specifics of the probe. Detroit’s FBI chief Timothy Slater would only confirm the raids.
“While I recognize the public’s right to know what the FBI is doing on its behalf, we have a responsibility to protect the integrity of our investigation and, as importantly, we have a responsibility to protect the rights of individuals who have not been charged with any crimes,” Slater said in a statement.
In a puzzling move, the FBI — while not disclosing what the case is about — is encouraging people who believe they have information relevant to the case to reach out to the FBI through a hotline it has set up.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, which will ultimately decide if any charges will be brought, declined comment.
The activity in Taylor comes as the federal government continues to crack down on pay-to-play schemes in the suburbs, which landed on the FBI’s radar following the 2013 corruption conviction of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is serving 28 years in prison.
Four years after winding up the Detroit City Hall corruption case, the FBI took to the suburbs in a probe that took down the Rizzo trash empire, locked up a township official for 17 years, and triggered 17 convictions and criminal charges against 22 public officials and contractors, including towing mogul Gasper Fiore, trash titan Chuck Rizzo and Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland.
Leland’s case is pending.
Fiore, 57, of Grosse Pointe Shores was sentenced in 2018 to 21 months in prison for paying $7,000 in cash bribes to ex-Clinton Township trustee Dean Reynolds in order to obtain a municipal towing contract with the township.
Reynolds was sentenced to 17 years in prison this month. Rizzo is serving a 5½ -year prison sentence for bribery.