Feds getting personal with search of southwest suburban mayors

Federal search warrants targeting Lyons and McCook reveal new details involving the mayors of those villages.

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Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski

Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski

Sun-Times file photo

Turns out the feds are getting personal as they circle multiple southwest suburban politicians.

Federal investigators showed interest last month in the home security system of Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty, as well as heating and air conditioning at the home of Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski, who doubles as mayor of McCook. 

That’s according to search warrant documents released Tuesday by Lyons and McCook, suburbs that previously withheld information but were challenged by various news organizations.

The revelations are the latest in a steady drip of information that began when federal agents on Sept. 26 raided McCook and Lyons and visited several other southwest suburbs. Two days earlier, they also visited the home and offices of state Sen. Martin Sandoval.

The Sandoval and suburban raids were related, a source said, and many of the same names surface in the paperwork resulting from each of the searches.

The Lyons records, released Tuesday night, mention Buckle Down Brewery, the Drake Oak Brook Resort and the Democratic Organization of Lyons Township.

Getty is listed as the agent for The Drake Oak Brook Resort LLC, according to Illinois Secretary of State records. He also holds annual fundraisers at the resort.

Additionally, the Lyons document mentions Skyway Homes. The Better Government Association raised questions earlier this year about Getty’s purchase of his newly constructed home from Skyway.

Documents from all three searches mention Rick Heidner, a key player in video gaming who has been trying to open a new harness-racing casino venture in the southwest suburbs. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration threw that plan off track Tuesday by announcing it wouldn’t sell state-owned land in Tinley Park for the project.

The Sandoval and McCook records also mention Bill Helm, who until recently was a high-ranking Chicago Department of Aviation official at the center of a lawsuit accusing him and other officials of injecting politics into the workplace at O’Hare Airport. 

The Lyons and Sandoval records mention John Harris, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s convicted one-time chief of staff, as well as the politically connected red-light camera company SafeSpeed, LLC. They also mention asphalt magnate Michael Vondra. 

Documents in McCook and Lyons mention Presidio Capital, whose “principal office” appears to be a postal box at a Hinsdale UPS store. It’s a development company run by Burr Ridge resident Omar Maani that’s built affordable housing in Cicero and Summit using taxpayer money funneled through the county government.

Federal agents questioned Summit Mayor Sergio Rodriguez about the housing project in his community, and they also questioned Patrick Doherty, Tobolski’s county government chief of staff, who was involved in getting Presidio government funding and who moonlights as a sales representative for SafeSpeed.

Doherty is also mentioned in the McCook and Sandoval documents.

Maani is an investor in SafeSpeed, which has also been the subject of FBI questions, and he’s a frequent visitor to a Countryside cigar lounge where a number of political players caught up in the current investigation socialize.

Some of Maani’s business partners have said they believe he’s cooperating with federal authorities. He hasn’t responded to messages seeking comment.

The McCook records also mention federal interest in Mario DePasquale, who is the police chief in McCook, as well as another cop under his command. DePasquale hasn’t returned numerous messages left since the initial Village Hall raid.

Another name on the McCook search warrant: Michael Thiessen, who has served on the board of the Lyons Township School treasurer’s office for a number of years. The tiny, little-known government agency has a huge task: distributing hundreds of millions of dollars to public school districts in the area.

The Lyons document does not mention Thiessen.

Thiessen served for a time on the board with Tobolski’s brother, Theron, and Karen Civinelli, a political ally of state Sen. and Bridgeview Mayor Steve Landek, the Lyons Township Democratic committeeman.

Thiessen runs a consulting business that helps develop sports complexes, and his company was involved in “The Max,” a public recreational center in McCook, and the Toyota Soccer Park in Bridgeview that until recently housed the Chicago Fire, according to his company’s website.

Thiessen couldn’t be reached Tuesday, but in a conversation after the Sept. 26 suburban raid, he said he didn’t know anything about what was going on. Thiessen, though, recently met with federal agents at their request and brought along records related to The Max, a source said.

Last year, Thiessen helped choose a new top administrator at the school treasurer’s office: Ken Getty, whose brother is Lyons Mayor Chris Getty.

Contributing: Mitchell Armentrout

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