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State Sen. Emil Jones III to be arraigned Friday on bribery charges – Brospar Daily News

Sen. Emile Jones III of Illinois is scheduled to face federal charges Friday alleging he took bribes from an executive at a red-light camera company in exchange for legislation that violated the company’s interests.

Jones, 44, a Democrat from the Far South, was charged with bribery and lying to federal agents in a criminal information released Tuesday. He plans to formally contest the charges in a telephone hearing by U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood.

Contrary to grand jury indictments, defendants charged with information usually intend to plead guilty in the future. Jones has not spoken publicly about his case, and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

The hearing comes as pressure mounts for Jones to step down from the seat he has held since 2009, when his powerful father, then Senate President Emile Jones Jr., appointed him to fill the vacancy.

Gov. JB Pritzker called on Jones to resign on Thursday, a day after Jones resigned his unpaid position as deputy Senate Democratic leader and his $11,098-a-year committee chair at the request of Senate President Don Harmon.

Jones also ran unopposed in the Nov. 8 election. Even if he were to resign, his name would likely remain on the ballot due to early voting and mail-in ballots.

Jones’ father, one of the most powerful machine Democrats in the state, regularly refutes allegations of nepotism and is known for propelling Barack Obama’s budding political career. In a statement Tuesday, the former Senate chairman defended his son, saying the allegations “do not reflect his true identity.”

“Everyone knew he was an honest, hardworking lawmaker,” Jones Jr. said. “I intend to fight alongside him and be with him throughout the process.”

Jones III is the latest politician to be charged in a federal investigation with a $100-a-year fine from motorists.

In 2019, when agents raided the office of Martin Sandoval, then the chairman of the state Senate’s powerful transportation committee, the investigation fell apart in 2019, in response to illegal efforts to pave the way for the cameras.

In February 2019, Jones introduced a bill in the Senate that would require the Illinois Department of Transportation to conduct a statewide study of automated traffic enforcement systems, including red-light cameras operated by SafeSpeed. information.

The allegation alleges Jones agreed with SafeSpeed ​​executive and co-founder Omar Maani (who worked secretly with federal investigators) to “protect” SafeSpeed ​​by limiting any traffic research to the city of Chicago, excluding the suburbs where the company does most of its business.

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In exchange, Jones received $5,000 in benefits and hoped to find a job and additional pay for an unnamed employee, Individual B, according to the allegations. Jones told Maney in August 2019 that if he donated $5,000 by sponsoring a campaign, they “don’t have to report that donation in the state campaign finance report,” according to the allegations.

On September 24, 2019, the day the FBI raided Sandoval’s office, Jones was interviewed by agents. According to the allegations, he lied that he did not agree to protect SafeSpeed ​​in exchange for Maani hiring or paying Individual B and did not discuss any plans with Maani to circumvent campaign finance disclosures.

Jones’ proposal was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on Nov. 19, 2019, when Sandoval no longer led the committee, as he stepped down as head of the committee in October, records from the Illinois General Assembly show. during the federal investigation.

Sandoval, who will eventually be indicted and pleaded guilty to bribery-related corruption charges, died in December 2020 of complications from COVID-19 while working with the government.

The red light camera investigation has so far arrested more than a dozen politicians, politicians and businessmen, many of whom either worked part-time as consultants for SafeSpeed ​​or directly affected how much money the company could make.

SafeSpeed ​​and its president Nikki Zollar have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying Maani was operating without the company’s knowledge or approval. Maani is no longer affiliated with the company.

jmeisner@chicagotribune.com

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