Martin Sandoval dies of coronavirus amid Illinois public corruption probe

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Former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who became a essential figure in a sequence of ongoing public corruption investigations early this 12 months when he admitted he’d taken hundreds of hundreds of pounds in bribes, has died from COVID-19, in accordance to his defense legal professional.

The Senate’s previous transportation chair also agreed in January to “cooperate in any make a difference in which he is referred to as upon” by federal prosecutors in Chicago. Late final month, the feds explained to a decide Sandoval had “provided important cooperation that is anticipated to last at the very least quite a few a lot more months.”

Now, lawful professionals say Sandoval’s dying has the probable to complicate the feds’ aggressive probe of Illinois politics.

Continue to, the implications of his death — triggered by a pandemic that took keep only months immediately after his guilty plea — may possibly not be fully recognized for some time.

Dylan Smith, the attorney who represented Sandoval in his federal felony circumstance, verified Sandoval’s dying for the Chicago Solar-Situations. Sandoval, 56, died Saturday early morning, in accordance to the Prepare dinner County professional medical examiner’s business office.

“I was very pleased to have represented Martin Sandoval,” Smith advised the Sunlight-Occasions. “He was another person of appreciable capability who had finished a terrific offer of very good in his life and someone who was performing incredibly hard to make amends for his issues and, in his possess way, carrying out what he could by way of his cooperation with the governing administration to contribute to their endeavours to clean up things in Springfield.

“And I know he was sincerely remorseful for obtaining strayed from his individual benchmarks, and he was an individual who loved his household greatly, and right now they are in my thoughts and I would hope and talk to the members of the push and the greater general public to respect their privateness as they mourn at this time.”

In pleading guilty in January, Sandoval admitted he took a “protector fee” from someone with an curiosity in the politically connected purple-light-weight camera firm SafeSpeed, insisting he’d “go balls to the walls for just about anything you ask me.” But he also admitted he’d engaged in corrupt exercise with other community officials and accepted around $250,000 “in bribes as aspect of felony exercise that associated a lot more than 5 participants.”

SafeSpeed has not been billed with wrongdoing and has denounced “a person who had an desire in the organization, who was not approved by the company to interact in any unlawful behavior or make any commitments or contributions on behalf of the organization or its executives.” Previous SafeSpeed associate Omar Maani has been charged with bribery conspiracy but entered into a so-named deferred-prosecution agreement with the feds.

In March, federal prosecutors filed an indictment from political operative William A. Helm, alleging he had bribed Sandoval in 2018. Sandoval’s title has also surfaced amid the burgeoning investigation of ComEd, which was charged with bribery in July but also entered into a deferred-prosecution agreement. A subpoena delivered to House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office environment that month also mentioned Sandoval.

Prior to his name emerged in the federal probe, Sandoval made nationwide information in 2019 when social media posts confirmed a guy at his political fundraiser pretending to shoot another person carrying a Donald Trump mask.

Previous federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer told the Sun-Instances the death of a important witness like Sandoval has the opportunity to produce “all sorts of difficulties for the prosecutor as much as admissibility of proof.” For instance, past testimony would mainly not be admissible if it was not subject to cross-examination, he stated. And recordings would require to be authenticated.

A witness like Sandoval can also provide as “a guidebook to the proof,” outlining to jurors how a thing labored, said Cramer, now running director in Chicago of Berkeley Investigate Team. But he reported prosecutors could nonetheless present a compelling case with no these a witness.

Former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, pictured in Springfield in June 2019.

Former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, pictured in Springfield in June 2019.
AP Pictures

Sandoval was a 1982 graduate of Quigley South seminary, where by he was a classmate of Tony Munoz, his future colleague in the point out Senate, and Victor Reyes, who grew to become Mayor Richard M. Daley’s director of intergovernmental affairs. Sandoval would later come to be an critical ally of Munoz and Reyes in the Hispanic Democratic Corporation, one of Daley’s critical political aid groups.

Following the 2000 redistricting designed two new Senate seats for Latinos — just one on the Northwest Side and the other on the Southwest — Sandoval was elected from the Southwest Facet district in 2002.

Above the years, Sandoval also set his appreciable political pounds and intellect powering initiatives benefiting the Latino neighborhood, immigrants, small-earnings citizens and other vulnerable populations, in accordance to immigration advocate Joshua Hoyt.

“He pushed a whole lot of matters that weren’t flashy, but which designed a distinction,” claimed Hoyt, who dealt with Sandoval in the mid-2000s when Hoyt was director of the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Some of those unflashy points championed by the bodily imposing and irreverently humorous ex-condition senator involved naturalization and office protections for immigrants, Hoyt stated.

“He was a significant gentleman and he had a big individuality, and he would use it to drive for what he desired,” Hoyt reported. “He manufactured some tragic faults, and some of individuals are the temptations of politics which have tripped up persons all around the spot . . . Men and women can make tragic errors and also contribute a lot of good in the environment. I assume Marty contributed a good deal of great in the world.”

Contributing: Robert Herguth and Tim Novak

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