A contractor who works with many of the municipalities in Martin Sandoval’s (D-Chicago) state senate district predicts that additional raids by federal agents are in the offing after Friday’s raids on the suburban villages of Lyons, McCook and Summit.
“There is a sh*t-storm coming. The parties (Friday) are nothing,” a contractor, who was granted anonymity due to fear of retribution, told the West Cook News.
He added that the FBI has subpoenaed all his emails from 2014 through 2016; he has witnessed zoning variances granted in exchange for political donations; he has knowledge of overbuilt community projects; and his firm has been extorted by one village.
Sen. Martin Sandoval
“I just got used to getting stuck in the a--,” he said. “It’s the way you play ball around there.”
On Friday, FBI agents, accompanied by agents in the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division, removed records from government offices in the villages of McCook and Lyons. The FBI described the McCook and Lyons raids as “authorized law enforcement activity,” according to the Illinois Policy Institute, while they described their actions in Summit as “investigative activity.”
A few days before the village raids, the FBI raided Sandoval’s Springfield office, his home in Chicago, and his office in Gage Park, where he operates a business, Puentes Inc., which the Chicago Sun-Times reports has been the source of controversy.
For many years, Puentes has been paid a monthly retainer by Cicero and other local municipalities for translation and media relations services. One deal with North Berwyn Park District “seems to have started not long after the senator helped the agency land a $1.2 million state grant to build a new water park,” the paper said.
In a 2012 story, the Sun-Times reported that Cicero paid Puentes $4,200 a month and the Village of Melrose Park paid the company $1,500 a month for media relations work.
Calls to Cicero officials were not returned.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer for McCook told West Cook News that it “conducted an extensive search” for contracts, paid invoices, or other evidence of work performed by Sandoval or Puentes and found “no documents responsive to your request.”
Lyons and the Village of Stickney likewise said they had no record of work performed by Sandoval or Puentes. And Morton College in Cicero, with whom Sandoval has close ties, said that it “does not and has not done business with Sen. Martin Sandoval.” Cicero, Berwyn and Melrose Park have yet to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests. By law, they have until Thursday to respond to the West Cook News' FOIA requests.
The raids come on the heels of the indictment of one of Sandoval’s Senate colleagues Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park); the raid of the nearby home of former Ald. Mike Zalewski (23rd), whose son, Mike, is a state rep; and the indictment of Chicago Ald. Ed Burke (14th). They along with Ald. Danny Solis (25th), who confirmed in March that he helped the FBI build a case against Burke, all hail from the same area -- as does Speaker of the House Mike Madigan (D-Chicago).
Just yesterday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Sandoval has been accused in a lawsuit of “using his clout as chairman of the powerful Senate Transportation Committee to get his son a job at Pace in 2016.”