Sandack paid extortion money after 'inappropriate online conversations'

Former state Rep. Ron Sandack wired money to the Philippines to try to avoid disclosure of "inappropriate online conversations" he'd had with a woman who asked to be his Facebook friend, police and Sandack disclosed Friday.

Sandack released a statement expressing regret shortly after Downers Grove police released more information about the case.

"I took their bait and fell for it hook, line and sinker," Sandack said.

Police report Sandack accepted a Facebook friend request from a woman July 7 and exchanged several messages with her. He received a video call via Skype a few days later from a woman in her 20s claiming to be the same person.

The police report did not disclose what was said in the conversation, but in a statement Sandack said he'd been lured into "inappropriate online conversations" by people whose aim was extortion.

The details come two months after Sandack, a former top ally of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, abruptly resigned from the Illinois House, saying he was doing so because his social media accounts had been hacked.

Sandack, in the police report, said he received a Facebook message July 13 demanding he send money to someone in the Philippines by Western Union, which he did.

The next day he got more threats and a demand that he send more money to the Philippines, this time by MoneyGram, which he also did. He went to police July 14 after more demands for money, the report says.

"Poor decisions on my part enabled me to be a victim and, as a responsible citizen, I reported it and have been working with police throughout their investigation," Sandack said in the statement. "I want it to be clear that no aspect of my involvement in this incident was related to my position as a state representative nor was the computer state property."

"I made a mistake for which I am remorseful and ashamed, especially because I have hurt my family," Sandack's statement said.

In their report, police noted they took Sandack's laptop as evidence and were in contact with Skype Communications, headquartered in Luxembourg, as well as MoneyGram, Western Union and the FBI. On Sept. 13, Downers Grove police said they determined the person who extorted Sandack was in fact in the Philippines.

"There was limited follow-up investigation that could be accomplished by U.S. authorities," the report said, and the case was closed.

Before his surprise resignation July 24, Sandack was floor leader of the House Republicans, a high-profile job that often thrust him into the spotlight of the biggest debates in Springfield.

Since his departure, he has kept a low profile in contrast to his former active use of Twitter and Facebook, tools that helped raise his stature as a lawmaker.

Last month, Rauner told the Daily Herald he had spoken to Sandack "very briefly" after his resignation, but he didn't elaborate. A spokesman for the governor declined to comment Friday.

Even before further details emerged, Sandack's departure from the Illinois Capitol was seen as a blow to Rauner, who has lost another top ally in former state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican who took a job as a lobbyist this week.

A flood of other lawmakers of both parties have either left their jobs or declined to run for re-election in November. Sandack has since been replaced by state Rep. David Olsen of Downers Grove.

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Illinois lawmaker's 'internet scam' police report redacted

Sandack police report not related to legislative duties

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