Galesburg Reporter

Galesburg Reporter

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Former Sen. Sandoval pleads guilty to bribery, tax fraud

Politics

By Emily Moore | Feb 20, 2020

Sandoval
Former Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago)

Former Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) recently pleaded guilty to corruption charges and now faces up to 13 years in prison.

Federal authorities started an investigation a year ago, looking into corruption at a controversial red-light camera company. On Jan. 28, Sandoval pleaded guilty to taking $250,000 in bribes from the company. The charges state that he accepted money from the state's vendor for voting for or against certain legislation. 

Sandoval also admitted to filing a false tax return. The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) reported that Sandoval under-reported his 2017 income as $125,905 when he actually earned nearly $260,000. 

Sandoval's support of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's 'fair tax' proposal seems almost comical now in light of his latest disclosure. 

“It’s absurd that families who are struggling to make ends meet are paying the same income tax rate as the wealthiest residents of our state,” Sandoval said after voting for Pritzker’s progressive income-tax amendment last spring. “It’s long past time to implement a fair and equitable tax system that will provide relief to middle- and working-class taxpayers who have been carrying an undue financial burden in this state.”

The investigation into Sandoval’s actions started in September 2019 when federal investigators conducted a raid on his home and office looking for information about red-light camera company SafeSpeed. Executives of the company were strong financial backers of Sandoval’s political ambitions, according to an IPI article. 

“I used my office as state senator to help SafeSpeed — er, company A … [and] be its protector in the Illinois Senate and influence other officials to roll out the red-light camera program in Illinois,” Sandoval said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Sandoval resigned as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee in October 2019, and from the state Senate on Jan. 1. He has agreed to cooperate with the investigation into political corruption in Illinois. 

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