Political operative William Helm indicted

William Helm, a longtime political operative, was indicted Thursday on federal bribery charges.

He is accused of paying off then-State Senator Martin Sandoval on behalf of a suburban construction company to get the senator's support on a state road project around 2017.

Sandoval was Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and was in a position to obtain IDOT approvals for development projects, according to court documents released Thursday.

Helm is the latest person to be charged in the federal corruption investigation against Sandoval.

Sandoval pleaded guilty to bribery and tax fraud charges in January.

As part of a plea agreement, Sandoval has agreed to fully and truthfully cooperate in any matter in which he is called upon by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Sandoval admitted in the plea agreement that he solicited and accepted financial and other benefits from an individual affiliated with a Chicago-area red-light camera company, in return for Sandoval using his official position as a state senator to block legislation harmful to the red-light-camera industry, the release said.

Sandoval also admitted he engaged in corrupt activities with other public officials and accepted money from other individuals in return for using his official position to attempt to benefit those individuals and their business interests. Sandoval admitted accepting more than $250,000 in bribes as part of criminal activity that involved more than five participants, officials said.

Of the $250,000, Sandoval said he took at least $70,000 from a Chicago red light company he identified as SafeSpeed. He admitted to getting paid $5,000 a month to act as a "protector," to either push the use of red lights or oppose legislation that would hurt the company.

In addition to the bribery, Sandoval admitted he willfully caused his accountant to file income tax returns that Sandoval knew underreported his income from 2012 to 2017. Sandoval admitted in the plea agreement that his tax offenses caused a total loss to the IRS of at least $72,441, and a loss to the Illinois Department of Revenue of at least $13,384.38, which he has agreed to pay.

The two charges came a few months after federal officials raided Sandoval's Chicago home and offices.
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