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Sun-Times names rumored cooperator: “Our partner has run amok”

Wednesday, Oct 9, 2019

* This rumor has been going around for about a week now. Here’s the Sun-Times on Monday

The politically connected CEO of a red-light camera company under federal scrutiny insisted “we don’t pay people off,” amid new revelations that agents recently approached another village mayor and a company salesman as part of their investigation.

“There is no subpoena to SafeSpeed,” Nikki Zollar told the Chicago Sun-Times late last week in her first public remarks since federal agents fanned out across the southwest suburbs on Sept. 26, seizing records and interviewing people. […]

Zollar said she believes that a SafeSpeed “partner,” businessman and developer Omar Maani, appears to be cooperating with the government, as do other sources familiar with the probe. […]

Her company is “trying to find out what we need to do to distance ourselves from him.”

“Our partner has run amok in some way,” Zollar said.

* Sun-Times yesterday

An upscale cigar shop and lounge in southwest suburban Countryside is proving to be an intriguing — and, until now, little-known — link to political players involved in an ongoing federal corruption investigation that saw agents swoop into Chicago and the southwest suburbs over the last two weeks, seizing records and interviewing public officials.

The business, Casa De Montecristo, offers choice cigars for sale, a living room-type space to unwind with a blazing fireplace where customers can puff away while watching sports on a large-screen TV and a separate “VIP room” in the basement, accessible by elevator, that offers dim-lighting, booths straight out of a Rat Pack-era nightclub, televisions and a bar for special events. Attractive women were often on hand working as servers. […]

It turns out a central figure in the corruption probe, Omar Maani of Burr Ridge, often entertained or otherwise socialized with political figures there, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. […]

Maani was there so often, in fact, that many people — including his business partners in other endeavors — thought he owned the swanky establishment. These days some of them believe he was something else: A businessman who was secretly cooperating with federal authorities as they attempted to snare local politicians.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments »
  1. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 8:09 am:

    a separate “VIP room” in the basement, accessible by elevator, that offers dim-lighting, booths straight out of a Rat Pack-era nightclub, televisions and a bar for special events. Attractive women were often on hand working as servers.

    Goofs playing hoods.

    Pathetic.

    – MrJM


  2. - Seen this movie before - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 8:12 am:

    Maybe its just a Mirage.


  3. - Downstate - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 8:13 am:

    Imagine the conversation in which each party can rightfully suspect the other may be wearing a wire.


  4. - chi - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 8:22 am:

    Doesn’t someone else involved with this story have an interest in that cigar shop? Could be a treasure trove of info if it was bugged.


  5. - Steve - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 8:24 am:

    It’s almost like a bar , when smoking was legal in Illinois or something…


  6. - Hamil - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 8:55 am:

    If cooperating with the government is “running amok” that tells you everything you need to know about the red light camera scam. Take them all down


  7. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 9:07 am:

    ===If cooperating with the government is “running amok” ===

    The statement is about the partner first running amok of the law.

    It’s damaging enough of a statement without that interpretation.


  8. - Regular democrat - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 9:07 am:

    The story writes itself. Political types in what is percieved to be a safe zone making deals. I’m guessing this guy was wearing a wire in there many times. Interesting how sun times let’s a little out per day.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 9:10 am:

    Pretending you are something, especially in that life of organized crime, rarely do the pretenders understand the why and what, like what it means being part of “this thing of ours”


  10. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 9:25 am:

    So in the future when corrupt politicians are big shotting at marijuana smoking clubs, will they be more careless when speaking to a CW? Or more paranoid?


  11. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 9:35 am:

    Nothing new but the address. Dem machine pols always have a hangout to hobnob with their cronies. Goes back to Frank Roti and Counsellor’s Row booth one.


  12. - Too-da-loo-mf - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 9:39 am:

    Isn’t that the place - in the basement - where 2 lobbyists closely affiliated with sandoval do their podcast?


  13. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    Red light cameras should be banned. And if Nikki Zollar really had no idea what was going on with her company, then perhaps she shouldn’t be CEO.


  14. - dying HDO - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    “our partner has run amok” now that he is cooperating with the feds.

    prior to that, he did what he was supposed to do: cozy up to pols, make contributions, do favors and if need be, perhaps pay some bribes.

    but how dare he work with the feds! what a disgrace.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 9:52 am:

    ===now that===

    Editorial license

    Until we truly know Ms. Zollar’s thoughts via this dragnet, I dunno if we can speak to the sentence other than how it’s written.

    Your editorial license implicates her. That’s the deal.


  16. - Take down - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 10:15 am:

    Omar wearing a wire will provide pure devastation to many.


  17. - Jocko - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 10:27 am:

    ==we can only do business the way we do business.==

    I recall Michael Corleone saying something similar at the senate hearing.


  18. - A guy - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 12:17 pm:

    That’s a great cigar store with a wonderful selection. When it’s cold out, there’s nowhere better to enjoy an hour of peace and serenity along with a great cigar.


  19. - Been There - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 12:42 pm:

    Not sure if cigars and sauna’s go together but its a lot harder to where a wire in a sauna.


  20. - Life Long R - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 1:23 pm:

    The bar in question has swipe card access so the G will know exactly who and when they enjoyed the club. So when the FBI asks somebody how many times have you enjoyed the fine cigars and drinks they better not lie.


  21. - Been There - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 2:04 pm:

    “Wear” instead of “where” in my above post


  22. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 2:50 pm:

    ===The statement is about the partner first running amok of the law.===

    ===Until we truly know Ms. Zollar’s thoughts via this dragnet, I dunno if we can speak to the sentence other than how it’s written.===

    So then why did you speak to how it was written?


  23. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 2:54 pm:

    ===So then why did you speak to how it was written?===

    Misinterpreting what is *actually* said or written is how #FakeNews grows

    Questions?


  24. - {Sigh} - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 3:46 pm:

    =“There is no subpoena to SafeSpeed,” Nikki Zollar told the Chicago Sun-Times late last week in her first public remarks since federal agents fanned out across the southwest suburbs on Sept. 26, seizing records and interviewing people. […]=

    With all of the Safespeed consultants talking to the media and/or receiving their own subpoenas, I’m not sure the feds would need to subpoena Safespeed at this time.


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