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Illinois State Senator Emil Jones III has been smacked with federal bribery charges. He allegedly accepted money from a red-light camera company to eliminate legislation requiring automated camera systems studies. Jones III then lied to U.S. federal agents about the acceptance of the cash, costing him an additional charge. This criminal information became public on Tuesday.
The 44-year-old is the son of former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr. He is the latest politician to be charged since the federal investigation which came to light when the FBI raided the now former State Senator Martin Sandoval’s offices. At that time Sandoval was the head of the state senate’s powerful transportation committee.
Jones III is a Far South Side Democrat who has served in the Illinois Senate since 2009. He allegedly told SafeSpeed partner, Omar Maani, that he would protect the company from General Assembly legislation in exchange for $5,000 and employment for an unnamed associate.
The charges against the Democrat stem from a Senate bill filed in February 2019 that required a statewide study of red-light cameras and other automated traffic law enforcement systems. The FBI stated Jones’ actions “thereby excluding from study and recommendations automated traffic enforcement systems utilized in numerous other municipalities” served by SafeSpeed.
On Sept. 24, 2019, the FBI questioned the Democrat senator about his role in the red-light scheme, to which Jones III lied about his contribution, according to officials. Later that day the FBI raided Sandoval’s home and offices, including any in the state Capitol building. Sandoval passed away in 2020.
The FBI charged the Far South Side Democrat in a document known as information. This generally implies the defendant intends to plead guilty.
Jones III joins the list of Sandoval, former Worth Township Supervisor John O’Sullivan. former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta, and former Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Tony Ragucci. The FBI also charged Maani who struck a so-called deferred-prosecution agreement with the feds in 2020 and agreed to cooperate with them.
SafeSpeed has portrayed Maani as a rogue employee and the company itself has not been charged.
Written by Sheena Robertson
Chicago Sun-Times: State Sen. Emil Jones III hit with federal bribery charges tied to red-light camera investigation
Chicago Tribune: State Sen. Emil Jones III charged with bribery in red-light camera case