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More charges could be on the way for former county official indicted in red-light scandal

The feds hit Patrick Doherty in February with three bribery charges in a seven-page indictment that revolved not around Doherty’s work for the county, but as a paid consultant for the politically connected red-light camera company SafeSpeed LLC.

Patrick Doherty exits the Dirksen Federal Building after pleading not guilty at his arraignment, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Chicago.
Patrick Doherty exits the Dirksen Federal Building after pleading not guilty at his arraignment, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Chicago.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A federal prosecutor told a judge Tuesday to expect additional charges in the coming months against a former high-ranking Cook County official accused early this year of bribery.

The feds hit Patrick Doherty in February with three bribery charges in a seven-page indictment that revolved not around Doherty’s work for the county, but as a paid consultant for the politically connected red-light camera company SafeSpeed LLC. It alleged he conspired in 2017 to pay off a relative of an Oak Lawn trustee to support the installation of red-light cameras at additional intersections there. Doherty has pleaded not guilty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Stetler Tuesday told U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman the new charges against Doherty could be filed in “a few months.”

Though Doherty’s case has largely been on hold since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, his name came up in the case filed by prosecutors this summer against former SafeSpeed partner Omar Maani.

Maani struck a deferred-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in September. The document said he schemed in May 2017 with Doherty and another unnamed SafeSpeed sales agent to influence the unidentified Oak Lawn trustee, and it said Doherty broached the idea on a phone call with Maani on May 23, 2017.

Doherty allegedly told Maani the trustee was “out of a job” and was “looking for a job for his kid.”

“I think he’s looking to make as much money as he can because he’s going to college, and his dad’s gonna have no money to give him because he’s outta work,” Doherty allegedly told Maani, suggesting that a short-term job worth $800 a week for the son might buy the trustee.

Other politicians who have so far been caught up in the growing SafeSpeed scandal include ex-state Sen. Martin Sandoval and Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta. Doherty once worked as chief of staff to former Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, who also once served as mayor of McCook. Tobolski resigned from both positions in March and pleaded guilty to an extortion conspiracy in September.