Home Heartland Square Illinois Search warrant sheds light on federal corruption probe of Sen. Martin Sandoval

Search warrant sheds light on federal corruption probe of Sen. Martin Sandoval

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Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval resigned his post as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee Friday shortly after the release of an unredacted search warrant that federal agents used to raid his office in Springfield.

The warrant lays out a broad investigation into his dealings with ComEd, Exelon, a video gambling company, a redlight camera company, an asphalt contractor, and state and municipal officials. 

According to the warrant, agents were searching for “items related to any official action taken in exchange for a benefit,” also known as a kickback.

Senate President John Cullerton confirmed Sandoval’s resignation late Friday morning.

The unredacted document was released by Senate Democrats after WBEZ filed a lawsuit to obtain it under the state’s open records law. Previously, Cullerton had released a redacted copy of the warrant.

Federal agents were looking for evidence of Sandoval’s interaction with ComEd and Exelon related to any issues those companies supported, including potential rate increases, according to the warrant.

Agents also sought information related to red-light camera operator SafeSpeed. House Bill 173 is mentioned as a federal search target. In 2016, legislation to ban red-light cameras passed in the state House of Representative with bipartisan support. After being assigned to the Senate Executive Committee, it was relegated to a subcommittee chaired by state Sen. Antonio Munoz, D-Chicago, and allowed to pass its deadline with no action. It was then re-assigned to Sandoval’s Senate Transportation Committee, where Sandoval assigned it to a subcommittee with no members. It was never voted on again.

Agents also sought information related to Gold Rush Amusements Inc. and owner Rick Heidner. Gold Rush is a video gambling company with 480 locations statewide, according to its website.

Agents searched Sandoval’s office last month looking for evidence of a conspiracy to defraud, bribery, and interfering with commerce by threats or violence, among other things. They took cell phones, computers, USB drives, campaign spreadsheets and other items from Sandoval’s office in the State Capitol.

Federal investigators also searched Sandoval’s Cicero office and his home. Chicago media outlets reported federal agents also visited Bluff City Materials, a sand and gravel business that serves contractors in several industries, including concrete and asphalt. Owner Michael Vondra did not return a message seeking comment. Vondra has donated money to Sandoval’s campaign fund and to Sandoval’s daughter’s campaign fund.

This story will be updated.