* Jon Seidel and Robert Herguth…
The mayor of southwest suburban Crestwood faces a federal bribery charge in a new indictment made public Friday that centers on the politically connected red-light camera company SafeSpeed, court records show.
Louis Presta, 69, has also been charged with filing false tax returns and lying to the FBI and IRS, allegedly about whether an envelope Presta took during a March 2018 meeting with a SafeSpeed representative had been stuffed full of $5,000 cash.
Presta’s indictment is the latest public sign of the feds’ ongoing public corruption investigations, which last month led to a bribery charge against the utility company ComEd. However, Presta’s indictment appears to be part of a separate investigation that earlier this year led to a guilty plea by former state Sen. Martin Sandoval.
In the Presta case, prosecutors say Presta sought and received benefits from SafeSpeed representatives while SafeSpeed sought to expand its services in Crestwood. They also say Presta was interviewed by federal authorities in September, around the time of a series of raids by federal agents that included Sandoval’s office at the state capitol in Springfield.
Some background is here.
*** UPDATE *** From the US Attorney…
The mayor of Crestwood has been indicted by a federal grand jury for using an interstate facility in aid of bribery, and lying to federal law enforcement about his request and receipt of benefits from a representative of a red-light camera company that provided services to the southwest suburb.
LOUIS PRESTA, 69, of Crestwood, is charged with three counts of using a facility in interstate commerce in aid of bribery and official misconduct, two counts of willfully filing a false income tax return, one count of willfully failing to file an income tax return, and one count of making false statements to the FBI and IRS. The indictment was returned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Arraignment has not yet been scheduled.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. Stetler and James P. Durkin.
According to the indictment, the red-light camera company provided camera services to Crestwood that enabled the municipality to issue tickets to motorists for certain traffic violations. During that time and while the company was attempting to provide additional such services to Crestwood, Presta asked for and accepted benefits from representatives of the company, the indictment states.
The false statement charge pertains to Presta’s September 2019 interview with the FBI and IRS, during which Presta denied receiving gifts, cash, or campaign contributions from the red-light camera company. When shown a recording of a March 7, 2018, meeting at which Presta allegedly accepted from the company representative an envelope containing $5,000 in cash, Presta falsely stated that there was no money in the envelope, the indictment states.
The tax charges in the indictment accuse Presta of willfully filing a false income tax return for the calendar years 2015 and 2018, and willfully failing to file an income tax return for the calendar year 2014.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The bribery and false statement counts are each punishable by up to five years in prison. Filing a false tax return is punishable by up to three years, while failing to file a tax return carries a maximum sentence of one year. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.