By Bob Bong
Federal bribery charges were filed last week against former Worth Township Supervisor John O’Sullivan in the latest development in the SafeSpeed red-light camera scandal.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal information on Friday against O’Sullivan in U.S. District Court. Defendants charged in a criminal information typically intend to plead guilty.
O’Sullivan, 53, of Oak Lawn, who is also a former state lawmaker, has been accused of trying to make a $4,000 bribe to a relative of an Oak Lawn trustee in 2017 to increase the number of SafeSpeed cameras in the village.
He resigned as Worth Township supervisor in February 2020. Patricia Joan Murphy was elected the new supervisor in the April 6 municipal election.
O’Sullivan has been under scrutiny for his role as a SafeSpeed sales consultant along with another consultant Patrick Doherty, of Palos Heights, and Omar Maani, a former SafeSpeed partner.
Doherty has been indicted for bribery and additional charges are expected. Maani is working with the feds but he has also been charged in the bribery scheme. The charges will be dropped if he continues to cooperate with the investigation.
Doherty allegedly brought up the idea of the pay-off in a call with Maani on May 23, 2017, according to court records. Doherty allegedly said the Oak Lawn trustee was “out of a job” and that, “he’s looking for a job for his kid.”
Doherty allegedly said the trustee’s son was “looking to make as much money as he can because he’s going to college, and his dad’s gonna have no money to give him because he’s outta work.” He also allegedly suggested paying the son $800 a week for two months.
That same day, O’Sullivan allegedly told the trustee the plan was to pay $500 a week over those two months, according to previous filings by the feds. They said in Friday’s filing that Doherty told O’Sullivan he’d make the payments “if it’s going to get us the job.”
Prosecutors said on Friday that O’Sullivan gave Doherty the son’s phone number so Doherty could offer him the job.
Doherty also served as chief of staff to ex-Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, who pleaded guilty in a separate extortion case last year that focused on his other former job as mayor of McCook.
Tobolski has admitted he’d engaged in multiple extortion and bribery schemes involving both offices, accepting more than $250,000 in payments “as part of criminal activity that involved more than five participants.”
The federal investigation into SafeSpeed also led to charges against former state Sen. Martin Sandoval early in 2020. He pleaded guilty to taking bribes and had agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors. Sandoval died of COVID-19 in December, though, and the federal judge presiding over his case formally dismissed it earlier this month.
The investigation has also led to charges against Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta, who is set for trial in December.
SafeSpeed has denied any wrongdoing and said Doherty and Maani were acting without their knowledge.
Palos Township Trustee Richard Lewandowski, 61, of Palos Heights, has also been snared by the far-reaching investigation.
Lewandowski pleaded guilty in February to one count of failure to file income tax returns.
“I did not file my taxes on time,” Lewandowski told the judge before he pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor tax count. “And I snowballed from one year to another and ended up really late on the one year I’m being charged with.”
Lewandowski was re-elected as a township trustee on April 6.