More charges expected against Crestwood mayor as judge sets trial for December

Louis Presta faces federal bribery and tax charges revolving around the politically connected red-light camera company SafeSpeed. He is also accused of lying to the FBI and IRS.

SHARE More charges expected against Crestwood mayor as judge sets trial for December
Louis Presta

Louis Presta

Rich Hein / Sun-Times

A federal prosecutor said additional criminal charges are expected against Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta that could “expand the time frame” of the allegations against him. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Durkin told a judge Tuesday to expect a superseding indictment in Presta’s case “some time in March.” He said the new indictment would contain allegations about “related conduct to what’s already charged.”

The prosecutor made the comment at the end of a brief status hearing during which U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin set Presta’s trial for Dec. 6. The prosecutor, who is not related to the judge, said Presta’s trial would likely last at least two weeks.

Presta has, since August, faced federal bribery and tax charges revolving around the politically connected red-light camera company SafeSpeed. He is also accused of lying to the FBI and IRS about whether an envelope Presta took during a March 2018 meeting with a SafeSpeed representative had been stuffed with $5,000 cash.

Prosecutors said Presta sought and received benefits from SafeSpeed representatives while SafeSpeed sought to expand its services in Crestwood. They also say Presta was interviewed by federal authorities Sept. 26, 2019, amid a series of raids by federal agents that included the offices of then-state Sen. Martin Sandoval at the state capitol in Springfield. Sandoval later resigned from the Senate, and he died last month.

During the interview, the feds say Presta denied receiving any gifts or cash campaign contributions from SafeSpeed. Then, when shown a recording of a March 7, 2018, meeting at which the feds say he accepted the envelope with $5,000 in cash, Presta allegedly lied and said there was no money in the envelope.

Presta denied the charges through a statement from defense attorney Thomas Breen when he was first indicted.

“As the future trial of this case will show, Mr. Presta never violated the trust the people of Crestwood placed in him,” the statement read. “We anticipate that the evidence will show that Mr. Presta never did what his campaign contributor asked him to do. Mr. Presta remained committed to the people who had elected him mayor of Crestwood.”

SafeSpeed has not been charged with wrongdoing and has portrayed one former partner as a rogue actor who long ago left the firm.

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