Federal agents seized more than $51,000 in cash from a safe found inside Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski’s house last year, according to a just-obtained federal document that indicates authorities are interested in yet another suburban mayor: Oakbrook Terrace’s Tony Ragucci.
Agents seized a whopping $60,000 in cash from Ragucci’s west suburban home late last year, the document shows, though it does not indicate whether he’s being eyed as part of the same political corruption investigation that’s been rocking local governments.
Ragucci couldn’t be reached for comment on Thursday, but in November he was asked by the Chicago Sun-Times whether he or his community has drawn scrutiny from federal agents because of the town’s use of the company SafeSpeed to operate red-light cameras.
SafeSpeed is a focus of the ongoing federal investigation, with agents looking into whether company representatives landed deals through payoffs. The company was the subject of a 2017 Chicago Tribune story about the controversial push to install SafeSpeed cameras in the town, and the questionable efforts of then-state Sen. Martin Sandoval to go to bat for the firm.
“That was all done legit,” Ragucci told the Sun-Times of the SafeSpeed contract. “We did everything legit and clean here.”
Communities get a cut of revenue from red-light tickets, and Ragucci said, “Our cameras are doing big numbers.”
Ragucci also told a reporter in November that neither he nor his local government had any contact with federal authorities. The federal document, obtained by the Sun-Times, indicates the money was seized from Ragucci in October.
The CEO of SafeSpeed has denied paying anyone off in an interview with the Sun-Times last year.
The federal document also reveals that $9,720 in cash was seized from Sandoval’s Chicago house. His home and state offices were raided Sept. 24, and he announced in November he was resigning effective New Year’s Day.
On Sept. 26, federal agents descended on the homes or offices of several suburban officials, including Tobolski, whose county chief of staff, Patrick Doherty, was a sales consultant for SafeSpeed.
The majority of the cash in Tobolski’s home — $51,611 — “was seized from within a safe,” the document said. In total, $55,205 was taken from Tobolski’s home.
The federal document does not reveal the origins of the cash nor its significance. Neither the U.S. attorney’s office nor the FBI would comment on the contents of the document.
The Sun-Times previously reported that the village hall in McCook, the tiny southwest suburb where Tobolski doubles as mayor, was searched by federal agents — and agents were looking for information about heating and air conditioning at Tobolski’s home.
Neither Tobolski, Sandoval nor Ragucci has been charged with any wrongdoing. But the feds have zeroed in on Sandoval’s ties to SafeSpeed, as well as a video gambling magnate and numerous lobbyists and political organizations in a probe that has put a number of suburbs and local mayors under the microscope, records show.
Tobolski, who could not be reached for comment, remains on the Cook County Board. He attended his first Cook County Forest Preserve Board meeting last month since the raid and had no comment on the investigation.
Sandoval could not be reached for comment.