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‘You got a new sheriff in town’: Louis Presta resigns as mayor of Crestwood, pleads guilty to red-light camera bribery scheme
The man who led southwest suburban Crestwood for nearly a decade admitted today not only that he took a secret $5,000 cash payment from a red-light camera company’s representative, but that he did so while promising tickets there would “creep up higher.”
Louis Presta even bragged about the higher percentage of red-light traffic violations approved by Crestwood and issued to drivers in February 2018, telling the representative of SafeSpeed LLC, “you got a new sheriff in town.”
Those details were revealed when Presta, 71, pleaded guilty today to corruption charges and told U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin he resigned his position with the village last night. Crestwood lawyer Burt Odelson said a special meeting has been set for Nov. 23 to try to pick an acting mayor who would serve through the next municipal election in April 2023.
“It has been an honor serving the residents of our Village as a Trustee and as Mayor,” Presta wrote in his resignation letter. “I will make myself available to my successor to provide a smooth transition.”
Presta’s guilty plea comes more than a year after he was charged in a federal indictment with bribery and official misconduct, lying to the FBI and IRS, and tax charges. Presta pleaded guilty to the bribery and official misconduct count, as well as filing a false tax return, and he could face two or more years in prison at his sentencing hearing, set for Feb. 23.
Presta admitted filing false tax returns for 2015 and 2018, and that he failed to file a tax return for 2014, causing a loss to the IRS of more than $67,000 and a loss to the Illinois Department of Revenue of roughly $3,400.
SafeSpeed has not been charged with wrongdoing, and a spokeswoman stressed today that the person who paid Presta did not do so on the company’s behalf.
More news you need
- A suburban businessman admitted today he rewarded then-state Sen. Martin Sandoval with thousands of dollars for Sandoval’s help speeding up the sale of property in McCook. Vahooman “Shadow” Mirkhaef pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and is expected to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
- The Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit that aims to advise communities about equitable growth, has named Darlene Hightower as its president and CEO. Hightower, with more than two decades of civic activism, will be the first Black person to lead the council, which dates back to 1934.
- Four people were wounded in a drive-by shooting outside the Alhambra Palace restaurant in the West Loop early this morning — less than a mile from where five people were shot during a rolling gunfight at the end of September. The group was standing outside Alhambra Palace when a black Jeep drove past and someone inside opened fire about 12:45 a.m., Chicago police said.
- The controversy surrounding the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s decision to recommend a three-day suspension for slain Chicago Police Officer Ella French spilled over into today’s City Council meeting. Mayor Lightfoot’s appointment of Andrea Kersten as COPA’s permanent chief administrator was sent to the Rules Committee, which will slow down Kersten’s confirmation and could be a first step toward derailing it.
A bright one
The name at the top of the Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu’s family text group is #WeTalkSh*t — asterisk and everything — and there’s only one rule: There are no rules.
The rookie’s brother, sisters, parents, aunts and uncles all are part of a group that texts mostly about — take a wild guess — basketball. At least half the texts these days seem to come during Bulls games, and a good many of those are sent from the United Center stands, where upward of a dozen family members pile into the same section and cheer on the pride of Morgan Park and the University of Illinois.
Ayo is the baby. Every now and then, perhaps after a rough practice or a bad game, the 21-year-old Dosunmu — not much of a curser — will get a tad colorful with his language. “Excuse me, parents and aunts and uncles, but this is how I feel right now,” one such text began.
The texts bring Dosunmu comfort, but there’s nothing like the physical presence of family. Ayo got to stay home after the Bulls drafted him 38th in July. He got to chase his hoops dream in his own backyard, got to find a new place to live in the West Loop with brother Kube, gets to see his sisters for dinner at Mom and Dad’s multiple times a week when the Bulls are in town.
“It feels amazing,” said Jamarra, his mom. “It definitely is a blessing. Like most rookies, he is very young and inexperienced in life. For us to be here to help him navigate through this next phase of his life on a day-to-day basis, to have that guidance — he’s a man now, but still, to have that guidance — it does feel good.”
Going to all home games and scattered road ones is a deviation from what would have been the plan had Dosunmu been drafted by a team in another city. Quam, Dosunmu’s father, was going to move wherever Ayo did for the first couple of years. Jamarra was going to keep running her South Loop beauty salon, Salon Sevhn, and make regular visits to see them.
Instead, they’re doing this — supporting Dosunmu at home.
The whole family feels connected to Dosunmu’s success and to that of the resurgent Bulls. Both parents emphasize they root and cheer for everyone on the team just as they did at Illinois, Morgan Park and Westinghouse before that. Jamarra makes a point of saying how grateful she is to DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine for taking her son under their wings.
From the press box
- When the Bulls acquired DeMar DeRozan, they acquired the chips on his shoulder, too. And the 32-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down, Joe Cowley writes.
- Our first Super 25 high school basketball rankings of the season won’t be revealed until tomorrow, but Michael O’Brien unveiled the area’s No. 1 preseason team today: Glenbard West, which boasts a true superstar in Gonzaga commit Braden Huff.
- Ty Rodgers, a top-100 recruit nationally, has committed to play college basketball at Illinois.
Your daily question ☕
What food tastes most like home for you? Tell us why.
Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Yesterday, we asked you: Where would you put Chicago’s next cannabis dispensary?
Here’s what some of you said…
“Hyde Park.” — Sakera Dongo
“Cicero and Roosevelt.” — Mike Ordakowski
“Soldier Field.” — Brian Bird
“Navy Pier.” — Damien Guyton
“Jackson Park.” — Kendrick Brooks
“Independence and Roosevelt.” — Serafin Rodriguez
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