The FBI has confirmed that federal agents last Thursday morning raided the administrative offices of three suburban communities, including Lyons, McCook and Summit in an apparent coordinated action.
The Chicago office of the FBI stated that agents were present at Lyons Village Hall and McCook Village Hall “conducting an authorized law enforcement action,” said Special Agent John W. Althen in an email.
The agents in Summit were “conducting investigative activity,” Althen stated. “FBI-Chicago has no further comment on the matter.”
Agents also appeared at the Ogden Avenue insurance business operated by Lyons Village President Christopher Getty and his father, Kenneth Getty Sr.
According to sources, federal agents showed up at the Lyons Village Hall, 4200 Lawndale Ave., shortly before it was to open for business. Employees were not allowed in and remained outside until about 11:50 a.m., sources said.
The front doors to the village hall were locked until about noon, but were reopened shortly thereafter.
Agents had left both Lyons Village Hall and McCook Village Hall prior to a Landmark reporter arriving at those locations. However, about a dozen agents were seen coming and going from the rear door of Getty Insurance, 7710 Ogden Ave. in Lyons, until past noon.
Asked by a reporter if he was with the FBI, one agent replied, “IRS Criminal Investigation.” No one else would comment on what they were doing at the office.
Shortly after 12:30 p.m., Burt Odelson, who serves as the attorney for the village of Lyons, was seen getting into his car outside the insurance office. Asked what was going on, Odelson responded, “I don’t know. I just came here to talk to the mayor,” referring to Christopher Getty.
When a reporter knocked on the front door of the insurance office Thursday afternoon, a man who answered said that Getty was inside, but that he wasn’t taking any meetings.
Jeffrey Tobolski, the mayor of McCook, is also a Cook County commissioner for the 16th District, which includes North Riverside, the southern tip of Riverside and roughly the southern half of Brookfield.
A call to Tobolski’s cellphone went straight to voicemail. The message was not immediately returned. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Tobolski did not attend a meeting of the Cook County Board that day and that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said he was out sick.
It’s unclear why federal investigators are interested in obtaining records from Getty and the villages of Lyons, McCook and Summit.
The raids follow just two days after federal agents raided the offices and home of Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-11th), whose district includes Riverside south of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks, as well as Lyons and Summit.
The Chicago Tribune reported on Sept. 24 that federal investigators were “looking into allegations Sandoval used his official position to steer business to at least one company in exchange for kickbacks.”
WBEZ reported last week that federal agents also raided the offices of Bluff City Materials, a company owned by Michael Vondra, who WBEZ called “a construction and asphalt magnate with deep political ties in state government.”
Vondra, according to WBEZ is a major political supporter of Sandoval. Vondra also has deep ties to Getty’s political organization and has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to political committees tied to the Lyons mayor in the past decade.
The Illinois Secretary of State lists Vondra as a manager for Reliable Materials Lyons, a quarry located south of Ogden Avenue between the Lyons municipal complex and First Avenue.
According to Illinois State Board of Elections records, Reliable Materials has donated a little more than $50,000 since 2011 to Citizens for Christopher Getty and nearly $49,000 since 2009 to United Citizens Party, which is the mayor’s local political party.
Christopher Getty is chairman and treasurer of both political committees, which also pay thousands of dollars in rent annually to Getty Insurance.
Reliable Materials since 2011 has also donated about $13,000 to Friends of Jeffrey Tobolski.
Sandoval is the chairman of the Senate’s transportation committee and is a political ally of Getty’s, as is Tobolski. In 2018, Sandoval personally inserted himself into a local school board matter when he appeared at a meeting of the Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 Board of Education and called for the resignation of the then-interim superintendents after it became known that the district had hired a teacher who was awaiting trial on attempted murder charges.
Tobolski also intended to speak at the school board meeting but did not after the school board president closed off public comment on the matter.
In 2015, a Getty-backed slate of candidates won control of the District 103 Board of Education and set about hiring administrators and others with political connections to Getty and his allies.
Getty lost his grip on that majority in 2017, but regained it earlier this year after spending about $20,000 from political committees he controls to back a slate of candidates who swept to victory in April.