Former Crestwood mayor Louis Presta pleaded guilty on corruption charges on Wednesday and admitted demanding cash payments from a representative of a red light camera company and told a federal judge he resigned in the village on Tuesday.
“I grew up last night,” Presta, 71, told U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin at the start of Wednesday’s hearing.
Presta then pleaded guilty to bribery and misconduct and making a false income tax return. He can face a sentence of two years or more in prison.
Presta’s lawyer ordered the judge last September to cancel his trial in a Chicago federal court in anticipation of Presta’s guilt.
The public then learned in October that Presta was about to resign from the village’s top job and take on a new, unelected post that would have paid him the same salary. He ended up retreating and told angry voters at the Crestwood Civic Center that the plans were pending “based on the decisions of the board, my attorney, and my doctors.”
Presta easily won the re-election despite federal charges against him last April. Village authorities declined to comment on Presta’s position on Wednesday morning.
Presta has been prosecuted by the federal government since August 2020 for accusing the FBI and IRS of bribery, filing false tax returns and lying. Presta lied about whether the envelope he took at a meeting with a representative of the politically committed red light camera company SafeSpeed in March 2018 was full of $ 5,000 in cash, according to the indictment.
It said Presta applied for and received benefits SafeSpeed, while SafeSpeed sought to expand its services in Crestwood. At a hearing on Wednesday, he admitted he was looking for donations in the middle of a plan for his Cook County Commissioner campaign, and at some point told a SafeSpeed spokesman, “You have a new sheriff in town.”
According to the indictment, Presta also spoke to federal authorities on September 26, 2019, during raids by federal agents, which included government agencies in the southwestern suburbs.
Fedit says Presta denied receiving gifts or cash campaign funding from SafeSpeed. When the recording is displayed on March 7, 2018, at a meeting where the central bank said he received an envelope containing $ 5,000 in cash, Presta lied and said there was no money inside to prosecute.
SafeSpeed has not been charged with a crime, and the company has portrayed a former partner there as a rogue actor.
Presta was also charged with filing false income tax returns for 2015 and 2018 and filing an income tax return for 2014.
Documents filed last month show the Presta campaign fund paid $ 25,000 to Breen & Pugh, the law firm that represented him in the criminal case.
Participant: Mitchell Armentrout