Presta May Be Getting Ready To Cop Plea In Red Light Camera Case

CRESTWOOD, IL — Mayor Lou Presta, who was indicted in August 2020 on federal charges of bribery, filing false tax returns and lying to the feds, filed a notice to vacate his not guilty plea Thursday in federal court. The 70-year-old Crestwood mayor pleaded not guilty to the charges last year.

According to the federal complaint, Presta was captured in a March 2018 recording accepting a bribe to promote red-light cameras in the Village of Crestwood, where he has served as mayor since 2013. During that time, SafeSpeed LLC, the red-light camera firm that provided cameras at intersections to catch motorists blowing red lights, was attempting to add cameras at village intersections. Presta asked for and acccpeted benefits from company representatives, the indictment stated.

The feds also claimed that Presta was captured in a March 2018 recording accepting an envelope of $5,000 from Omar Maani, a former SafeSpeed executive. Illinois State Board of Elections records also showed Presta amending his campaign disclosure statement for the same month, noting that he received an in-kind campaign donation for $5,000 from Maani for “election day workers and expenses.” At the time, Presta was running in the Democratic primary for 6th District Cook County Commissioner, which he lost.

Later, when confronted in September 2019 by the FBI with a recording of himself accepting the envelope from Maani, Presta told the FBI there was nothing inside the envelope, the indictment stated.

Maani’s ownership interest in SafeSpeed was terminated in February 2020″for his alleged involvement in criminal activity.” SafeSpeed has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Presta is also accused of “willfully” filing a false income tax returns for the calendar years of 2015 and 2018, and for failing to file an income tax return for the calendar year of 2014.

During Thursday’s status hearing before U.S. Judge Thomas M. Durkin, Presta’s attorney Thomas Breen, indicated that the mayor has “indicated a willingness to plead guilty,” WGN reported.

A change of plea hearing has been set for Oct. 29. Presta was originally scheduled to go trial Dec. 6.
Presta was elected to a third mayoral term in April, riding a wave of good will generated through his distribution of vouchers for village restaurants during the pandemic shutdown in March 2020. He continues to organize golf outings for his campaign war chest. Presta did not return messsages from Patch asking if he planned to change his not guilty plea.


via Alsip-Crestwood Patch

September 9, 2021 at 10:42PM

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