3/10/2020Illinois Traffic Signal Consultant Charged With Bribing State Senator
Third person indicted in federal red light camera bribery investigation.
The federal red light camera bribery investigation in the Illinois suburbs has now enared a politically connected Chicago consultant for paying off a state senator. William A. Helm is set to be arraigned at 2pm today in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The 56-year-old owner of WAH Consulting was hired to smooth over the process of getting permits from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for a road project at Route 72 and Christina Drive in East Dundee.
According to federal investigators, Helm in 2018 slipped then-state Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Martin Sandoval at least $5000 so that he would put pressure on IDOT for speedy approval of the project on behalf of the construction company that had hired Helm. Officials only identified the firm that hired Helm as "Company A."
Judge Gabriel A. Fuentes released Helm on $100,000 bail. The charge carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, though others in his position ended up serving much less time behind bars.
Helm joins Sandoval and Cook County staffer Patrick J. Doherty in being indicted in the widening scandal. Others who have been implicated without being charged have stepped down from their positions. Worth Township Supervisor John O'Sullivan, who moonlighted as a salesman for red light camera vendor SafeSpeed, resigned last month. Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, who had hired Doherty as his chief of staff, resigned last week.
Sandoval admitted taking $250,000 in bribes from Safespeed. The cash was laundered in the form of campaign contributions from individuals not directly traceable to Safespeed. In return for the money, Sandoval used his powerful legislative position to torpedo any attempt to ban red light cameras in the state. With Sandoval gone, the state House has passed a partial ban on red light cameras that prohibits their use in small towns and cities, leaving the lucrative Chicago program running. The state Senate has yet to vote on the measure.
In total, fourteen public officials, lobbyists and photo enforcement executives have been convicted in various corruption schemes in the United States (view full list) involving red light cameras. The scandals, however, extend to countries using automated ticketing machines around the globe (view the red light camera and speed camera CrimeLine).