Jeffrey Tobolski, the former mayor of McCook and Cook County commissioner for the 16th District, has been charged with extortion and filing a false tax return, the latest to fall amid a sweeping federal corruption investigation of Chicago and suburban officials.
The brief, two-page document filed Aug. 21 in U.S. District Court in Chicago is what’s known as an “information,” meaning Tobolski likely will plead guilty to the charges.
The document states that beginning around 2016 and continuing through 2018, Tobolski conspired with another McCook official to extort an unspecified amount of money from someone identified only as Individual A, who was “induced by the wrongful use of actual and threatened fear of economic harm.”
Separately, Tobolski has been charged with filing a false federal income tax return for 2018. Tobolski reported his income to be $214,270 that year, according to the charge, when he knew “that the total income substantially exceeded that amount.”
That Tobolski has been charged by federal prosecutors is no surprise. Federal agents raided Tobolski’s offices at McCook Village Hall and his home, along with the homes and offices of other suburban officials, on Sept. 24, 2019. It was later reported that the feds had seized more than $51,000 in cash from a safe inside Tobolski’s home.
Two other close associates of Tobolski’s have already been charged by federal authorities.
In February, Tobolski’s county board chief of staff Patrick Doherty was indicted for his alleged role in a bribery scheme to influence an Oak Lawn trustee to support extending a contract with the red-light camera company SafeSpeed LLC.
Doherty worked as a “consultant” for the red-light camera company, getting a small cut of ticket revenue the company collected. On March 6, the same day Tobolski announced he was resigning as mayor and county commissioner, a political ally of his named William Helm, who had served as deputy aviation commissioner for the city of Chicago, was indicted.
Federal prosecutors charged Helm with giving more than $5,000 in bribes to former Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval to influence approval of a road and traffic signal construction project in East Dundee.
Sandoval, the formerly powerful chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, pleaded guilty in January to taking $70,000 in bribes in exchange for serving as the red-light camera industry’s “protector” in the state Senate and taking more than $250,000 in bribes in exchange for benefitting the business interests of others.