Martin Sandoval, the disgraced former state senator who was a key government witness in a corruption probe involving a former official of a politically connected red-light camera company, died Dec. 5 at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.
The Cook County Medical Examiner reported that the 56-year-old Sandoval died from pneumonia resulting from COVID-19 infection, confirming statements made by his attorney, Dylan Smith, to other media companies over the weekend.
“I was proud to have represented Martin Sandoval,” said Smith to the Chicago Sun-Times. “He was someone of considerable ability who had done a great deal of good in his life and someone who was working very hard to make amends for his mistakes and, in his own way, doing what he could through his cooperation with the government to contribute to their efforts to clean things up in Springfield.”
Since late January, when the former chairman of the Illinois Senate Transportation Committee pleaded guilty to taking bribes and lying on a federal income tax return, Sandoval had been cooperating with federal prosecutors in their investigations into local and state politicians and their political contributors.
In Sandoval’s case, the generous contributor was a former partner in the red-light camera company SafeSpeed LLC. In his plea agreement with the feds, Sandoval admitted accepting roughly $70,000 in bribes from the former red-light camera company official between 2016 and 2019.
In exchange for the payments, according to his plea agreement, Sandoval had promised to be the red-light camera industry’s “protector.”
In all, he admitted to taking more than $250,000 in bribes in exchange for benefitting the business interests of others.
SafeSpeed LLC has not been charged with any wrongdoing and the company has distanced itself with the former partner, Omar Maani, who is also cooperating with prosecutors after entering into a deferred prosecution agreement with the government in September.
Sandoval represented the 11th District in the state Senate, an area that includes Riverside south of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks as well as the villages of Lyons and Summit, where federal agents also paid visits in September 2019 days after raiding Sandoval’s Springfield and Chicago offices.
No officials from either Lyons or Summit have been charged with any wrongdoing.
Federal agents in the fall of 2019 also raided the offices of former Cook County Commissioner and McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski, who pleaded guilty in September to taking bribe and extortion payments totaling more than $250,000 from more than five people and filing a false tax return.
Tobolski also agreed at the time of his guilty plea to cooperate with federal prosecutors.