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Former SafeSpeed Co-Owner Omar Maani Charged In Bribery Scheme

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Omar Maani, a former co-owner of politically-connected red light camera company SafeSpeed, has been charged with scheming with a former high-ranking Cook County official to bribe the relative of an Oak Lawn village trustee in order to install new red light cameras in the southwest suburb.

Maani is charged with one count of bribery conspiracy in a two-page document known as a "criminal information," which is typically used in cases there the defendant intends to plead guilty.

According to published reports, Maani has been cooperating with a widespread federal investigation of public corruption, and wore a wire for the FBI as part of the probe.

Federal prosecutors accuse Maani of scheming with Patrick Doherty – onetime chief of staff to former Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski – and another SafeSpeed sales agent to pay a bribe to an immediate family member of an unnamed Oak Lawn village trustee, in exchange for that official's support for installing additional red light cameras in the southwest suburb.

According to the charges, Doherty was recorded on his cell phone telling Maani he would pay the trustee's relative "just on the chance of, huh, that we can get other ones in Oak Lawn and get [Trustee 1] on our side."

In February, Doherty was indicted on two counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy to defraud, accused of conspiring with a fellow SafeSpeed sales agent and one of the company's owners to pay $4,000 in bribes to the relative of an Oak Lawn village trustee, in exchange for influencing that trustee to help approve the installation of additional cameras.

Doherty was the longtime chief of staff for Tobolski, who was also the mayor of McCook, before he resigned from both of his elected posts in March.

The charges against Doherty came about two weeks after former Illinois State Sen. Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty to taking $70,000 in bribes to act as a "protector" for red light camera company SafeSpeed. Sandoval said he agreed to take bribes in exchange for blocking proposed legislation to ban red light cameras.

Federal agents raided Sandoval's home and offices last September, four months before he was charged. According to a search warrant from those raids, federal investigators are casting a wide net in an ongoing corruption probe. The warrant revealed the FBI was seeking evidence related to a vast array of subjects -- including Tobolski and SafeSpeed. Others named in the warrant included ComEd; businessman Michael Vondra; video gambling company Gold Rush Gaming; several unnamed Illinois Department of Transportation officials; and several asphalt, concrete, and construction companies.

Earlier this month, Tobolski was charged with conspiracy to commit extortion and filing a false tax return. The charges provided little details of the scheme, but accused Tobolski and another unnamed McCook official of scheming to extort a victim identified only as "Individual A" by threatening economic harm. Tobolski also was accused of filing a false tax return in 2018, claiming he earned only $214,000 in income, when his real income was far higher.


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