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Feds say Heidner not a target

Thursday, Jul 9, 2020

* A fascinating story by Amanda Vinicky

Video gaming magnate Rick Heidner, who has been of interest to the FBI amid sprawling corruption probes that have wracked state and municipal politics, is not himself the target of an investigation, according to a letter obtained by WTTW News from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Heidner and his company Gold Rush Amusements, one of the state’s largest operators of video gaming consoles that dot the state, were listed in the search warrant executed during a raid of former state Sen. Martin Sandoval’s capitol office last fall as part of a bribery investigation.

The feds likewise sought records relating to Heidner and Gold Rush when they carried out searches days later in the villages of Lyons and McCook.

In a letter dated June 26, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch wrote: “In the context of a criminal investigation, a ‘target’ is a person who is linked by substantial evidence to the commission of a crime and who, in the prosecutor’s judgment, is likely to be charged.”

Lausch continues: “At this time, your client is not a target of this investigation.”

That may change, Lausch writes, and he makes explicit that the U.S. attorney “has made no other representations or promises.”

That’s a very unusual move by the US Attorney. But it also reminds me of that line in Syriana, “In this town, you’re innocent until you’re investigated.” Not everyone mentioned on a search warrant is a crook.

* From February

Denied a bid to open a suburban racetrack-casino and fighting state regulators’ effort to revoke his video gambling license, suburban developer Rick Heidner says an Illinois Gaming Board employee leaked mountains of his sensitive information to three federal agencies in a data breach revealed last month. […]

Heidner says it wasn’t until Jan. 31 that the Gaming Board told him it was his information that had been improperly accessed, including troves of sensitive financial records and personal information not only on Heidner and Gold Rush, but also on his wife, two of his children and dozens of business partners from among the 500-plus establishments statewide that house Heidner’s slot machines. […]

Heidner says the leaks started in October, the day after a Chicago Tribune report detailed his business ties to a banking family with mob connections. His name also surfaced in search warrants released that week revealing federal agents were interested in items related to Heidner and his gambling company last summer when they raided the offices of former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who has since pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge.

That prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker to pull the plug on a racino plan Heidner had forged with Hawthorne Race Course president Tim Carey. They had appeared on path to state approval before Pritzker’s office refused to sell state land for the project in light of the revelations.

Sandoval’s office was raided in September.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

5 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 9, 20 @ 11:45 am:

    Been pondering this since the post went up.

    Maybe this is NOT a letting off the hook of Rick Heidner, but maybe signaling to others “we’re telling Rick Heidner he’s not a target to put you on notice”?


  2. - Frank talks - Thursday, Jul 9, 20 @ 12:24 pm:

    @Oswego- what? Not sure I get how letting Heidner “off” is putting others on notice?
    Just asking


  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 9, 20 @ 12:33 pm:

    === Not sure I get how letting Heidner “off” is putting others on notice?===

    They’re having all these raids and indictments… sooner or later… the target is discovered.

    It’s like playing a game of “Clue”… right now, we know it’s not Col. Mustard… so Mr. Green better take notice he might be found as suspects are dwindling.


  4. - Back to the Future - Thursday, Jul 9, 20 @ 1:47 pm:

    You may be reading “not a target”, but I am thinking “now a witness”.


  5. - Latina - Thursday, Jul 9, 20 @ 11:57 pm:

    -Back to the Future- he’s a witness.


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