Martin Sandoval, who resigned his seat as a member of the Illinois Senate effective Jan. 1 and whose 11th District included part of Riverside, has pleaded guilty to bribery and lying on his 2017 tax return.
The once-powerful Democrat and Senate Transportation Committee chairman entered his guilty plea during his arraignment on Jan. 28 before Judge Andrea Wood at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago.
He reportedly faces up to 13 years in prison. In addition to the prison time, Sandoval reportedly has agreed to pay about $72,000 in restitution and will cooperate with prosecutors in their continuing corruption probe into other area politicians and their contributors.
Prosecutors indicted Sandoval on Jan. 27, four months after federal agents raided the Sandoval’s offices in Springfield and Cicero and his home in Chicago.
According to prosecutors, Sandoval took bribes of at least $5,000 in order to ensure his “continued support for the operation of red-light cameras in the state of Illinois, including opposing legislation adverse to the interests of the red-light camera industry.”
Sandoval also lied on his 2017 income tax return, according to the indictment. Sandoval claimed his income was $125,905 that year when it “substantially exceeded that amount,” the Jan. 27 court filing states.
In September 2019, federal investigators raided the offices of then-state Sen. Martin Sandoval. The search warrant, among other things, stated that investigators sought documents related to the red-light camera company SafeSpeed, its officers and employees.
Sandoval’s political committee in recent years had accepted more than $30,000 in donations from SafeSpeed, associated companies and one of the company’s founding members.
The Landmark and others have reported previously that Sandoval personally intervened in 2016 on SafeSpeed’s behalf to convince Illinois Department of Transportation officials to approve red-light cameras, which IDOT earlier had denied, at the intersection of Route 83 and 22nd Street in Oakbrook Terrace.
Days after the Sandoval raids, federal agents also raided the home of Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Tony Ragucci, who resigned from office earlier this month. FBI agents reportedly seized $60,000 in cash from a safe inside his residence.
SafeSpeed-related documents were also sought by federal investigators in raids last September of offices belonging to Lyons Village President Christopher Getty and Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski.
Ragucci, Tobolski and Getty have not been charged with any wrongdoing, nor has anyone connected with SafeSpeed.
But the local pols have been busy working with lawyers in the wake of the raids. According to campaign finance disclosure records on file with the Illinois Board of Elections, during the fourth quarter of 2019, Sandoval spent $90,000 on legal fees.
Meanwhile, Ragucci’s political committee spent $30,000 on legal fees during the fourth quarter of 2019. Getty’s political committee spent $10,000, while Tobolski’s spent $200,000 on legal fees during that period.