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Feds sought to search Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski’s office in village hall raid

New records shed light on the feds’ recent search at the village hall of tiny suburban McCook where Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski is the mayor.

Cook County Commissioners Jeffrey Tobolski, right, and Richard Boykin chat during a Cook County Board of Commissioners committee meeting last year. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Federal agents targeted Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski’s mayoral office in McCook during last week’s sweep of the southwest suburbs, newly released records show.

They also sought items related to a Latino Night at a McCook-owned sports facility known as the Max, as well as Chicago Cubs spring training trips, heating and air conditioning at a residence, and benefits provided by an unnamed law firm and attorney.

Agents were looking for information about seven companies — including five “McCook” companies and one highway company — as well as one local contractor, two cooperating witnesses and one McCook police officer. None were named.

Finally, the feds wanted “items related to any official action taken in exchange for a benefit.”

Agents left with records related to a “Pub Max project,” a 2017 roof repair, Department of Labor safety violations, invoices, emails, hard drives, a Max monthly meeting reports folder and other documents.

That’s all according to the set of heavily redacted documents released Thursday afternoon by the Village of McCook after the Chicago Sun-Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

Tobolski has not responded to requests for comment ever since the feds on Sept. 26 executed search warrants at McCook and Lyons village halls and interviewed the mayors of Summit and Crestwood. Tobolski called in sick to that day’s Cook County Board meeting but still sent Buona Beef for a belated celebration of his birthday.

The sweep came two days after a raid on the home and offices of state Sen. Martin Sandoval, including his office space in the state Capitol building. Senate Democrats released heavily redacted records from that search earlier this week.

A source told the Sun-Times the Sandoval and suburban government searches were related.

The Sun-Times has also reported that agents in the suburbs were asking about a politically connected red-light camera company known as SafeSpeed LLC. One of the company’s paid consultants is Patrick Doherty, who is Tobolski’s county chief of staff.

Tobolski doubles as a Cook County Commissioner and mayor of McCook.

In a statement, a spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said “it is deeply concerning to learn when federal agents raid someone’s office.”

“That said, I have no information beyond what has been reported in the news,” the statement continued. “Commissioner Tobolski remains a member of the County Board and my current expectation is he will continue to fulfill his duties for the residents of his district.”

When asked if Preckwinkle would be asking Tobolski to step down, the spokesman said “we’re going to leave it at that,” referring to the statement.

Doherty told the Sun-Times he was interviewed by FBI and IRS agents at his home last week but he insisted it was not about SafeSpeed. Rather, he said agents asked about another company — run by SafeSpeed investor Omar Maani — that’s been involved in low-income housing projects in Cicero and Summit.

Tobolski’s actions at the Max have generated controversy in the past. In 2010, Tobolski hired a political volunteer for a part-time job at the facility despite the man being a convicted felon at the time and a self-admitted sex addict. Felice “Phil” Vanaria pleaded guilty in 2007 to official misconduct and bribery for conning a woman into a sex act with him in return for a nonexistent government job.

Tobolski has also been subject of criticism for putting many family members on the village payroll, including good-paying jobs at the Max.

Meanwhile, more details are emerging about federal activity from last week in nearby Summit, which agents visited in what appeared to be a coordinated sweep that also included Lyons and Crestwood, in addition to McCook.

The Sun-Times has confirmed through sources that:

  • Among other topics, federal agents questioned Summit Mayor Sergio Rodriguez about whether another political figure tried to pressure village officials into giving a local bar a license to operate later into the night. Rodriguez hasn’t returned numerous calls seeking comment. The bar operator said he’d consult with his attorney and call back a reporter but didn’t.
  • Federal agents tried to interview former Lyons Township Supervisor Bill Mundy, who doubles as Summit’s buildings inspector and public works director, but he opted not to speak to them in detail without a lawyer. Reached by phone, Mundy told a reporter he’s been asked not to talk about this matter and hung up.
  • Summit Park District executive director Frank Torres was approached separately by federal agents. He refused to discuss the matter when reached at his government office this week. Torres has told park officials “it’s personal” and “a private matter.” He once worked as a municipal official under Lyons Mayor Chris Getty, whose village hall and insurance business were raided last week by the feds.