Saturday, June 19, 2021

U.S federal prosecutors expand bribery case against former Cook County official Patrick Doherty

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Federal prosecutors made good Thursday on their promise to file additional charges against Patrick Doherty, accusing the once high-ranking Cook County official of schemes involving former county Commissioner Jeff Tobolski and the late state Sen. Martin Sandoval.

They originally hit Doherty in February 2020 with three bribery charges in a seven-page indictment that revolved not around Doherty’s work for the county but as a paid consultant for the politically connected red-light camera company SafeSpeed LLC.

That indictment accused him of conspiring to pay off a relative of an Oak Lawn trustee to support the installation of red-light cameras at additional intersections there. The feds have since charged two others allegedly involved in that scheme, onetime SafeSpeed partner Omar Maani and former Worth Township Supervisor John O’Sullivan.

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Maani struck a deferred-prosecution agreement with the feds and agreed to cooperate in their investigation. O’Sullivan is due to be arraigned and enter a plea later this month. SafeSpeed has not been criminally charged, and it has portrayed Maani as a rogue actor.

Now, a new 17-page indictment filed Thursday against Doherty also lays out his alleged role in schemes involving Tobolski, who doubled as mayor of McCook, and Sandoval, who served as chairman of the Illinois Senate’s transportation committee. Doherty was Tobolski’s chief of staff at the county.

Tobolski pleaded guilty to an extortion conspiracy last year, admitting he’d engaged in multiple extortion and bribery schemes involving his two offices, and accepted more than $250,000 in payments “as part of criminal activity that involved more than five participants.”

Sandoval pleaded guilty to corruption charges early in 2020 but died in December.

The new indictment refers to Tobolski as “Public Official A.” It alleges that he and Doherty agreed to take money from Maani in exchange for helping an unnamed Chicago-area development company, in which Maani had an interest, strike deals with McCook.

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Doherty allegedly told Maani by phone on Sept. 6, 2018, to make a bribe payment to Tobolski, who then allegedly accepted $3,655 from Maani on Sept. 12, 2018. Nearly a year later, on Aug. 21, 2019, Doherty allegedly told Maani to bribe Tobolski with $2,500. On Sept. 4, 2019, Tobolski allegedly took $2,500 from Maani.

The next day, Doherty allegedly told Maani by phone that he would make sure Tobolski signed a check from McCook to the development company. Doherty also allegedly said that whether Maani and the company could obtain additional work from McCook was “all contingent on what you can give ….”

The new indictment against Doherty also alleges that, between June and September 2019, Doherty and a SafeSpeed sales agent agreed to bribe Sandoval — identified as “State Senator A” — to oppose legislation adverse to the red-light-camera industry’s interests.

Federal authorities conducted multiple high-profile raids, including of Tobolski’s McCook office and Sandoval’s office at the state Capitol building, late in September 2019.

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