Sen. Martin Sandoval steps down as Transportation Committee chairman as federal corruption probe continues

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A powerful Illinois senator at the center of a federal corruption investigation is stepping down from his leadership post.

The announcement came as ABC7 uncovers new details about a search of Sen. Martin Sandoval's Springfield office, and a connection to the governor's office.

A search warrant obtained Friday as part of a freedom of information request reveals that federal officials were interested in, among several companies and individuals, a connection Sandoval had to a Berwyn alderman who Gov. JB Pritzker appointed to the Illinois Tollway Board.

The new twist in the Martin Sandoval case stems from a raid conducted by the FBI on the state senator's office in Springfield. Newly released documents from the search warrant reveal the feds were interested in Cesar Santoy, an architect appointed to the Tollway Board last spring.

"Corruption in self-dealing are unacceptable and will be routed out, whether it's in my administration or in the Legislature," said Gov. Pritzker.

Pritzker said Santoy now has a cloud hanging over him despite being fully vetted before his appointment.

"So from my perspective Cesar Santoy should step aside from his position on the tollway board," Pritzker said.

Santoy resigned from his post a few hours later.

Santoy's attorney, Brendan Schiller, issued a statement, saying: "I've been informed that Mr. Santoy is not a target. The government obtained a search warrant for some communications. Santoy cooperated fully in responding to that warrant."

Also on Friday, Sandoval sent a letter to the Senate resigning from his position as chairman of the Transportation Committee. He did not state why.

The FBI search warrant revealed investigators were also interested in Gold Rush Gaming. The company's website said it has 480 slot machine locations statewide, including in several suburbs that were targeted in FBI raids.

The documents also show federal officials were interested in the company responsible for red light cameras in Chicago and numerous suburbs.

A spokesman for SafeSpeed, Dennis Culloton would not say if the company has been informed whether it is a target of the investigation or not.

The company released a statement that said, "For more than a dozen years, SafeSpeed has worked with communities across Chicagoland to improve safety and prevent red light accidents at dangerous intersections. We base our culture on safety and partnering with law enforcement and we conduct our business ethically and with integrity. We do not condone any departure from these core values. As a company, we do not tolerate wrongdoing or public corruption and we support efforts to root it out."

As for Cesar Santoy, he was appointed but never confirmed by the Senate so the governor rescinded the appointment on Friday.

Santoy's attorney said his client is confident that his legal concerns will be cleared up soon and he hopes to then be reconsidered for his position on the Tollway Board.
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