Tollway official exits abruptly after name surfaces in search warrant

His name has surfaced in FBI investigation involving Democratic senator

Just months after joining the Illinois tollway, Director Cesar Santoy resigned Friday after his name surfaced in an FBI investigation involving Sen. Martin Sandoval, the chairman of the state Senate Transportation Committee.

Sandoval also resigned as transportation chair Friday.

Santoy, an architect and Berwyn alderman, was appointed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in February amid an ethics reform push at the agency. The previous board was ousted by the General Assembly in January following Daily Herald reports of nepotism and patronage involving contracts and hiring.

"Cesar Santoy has agreed to step down," Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said. "His appointment has not been confirmed by the Senate, so our administration has withdrawn the appointment."

On Sept. 24, the FBI raided Sandoval's office. The Chicago Democrat has not been charged with any wrongdoing, nor has Santoy.

FBI documents from the raid indicate investigators were interested in items related to highway and construction companies, lobbyists and communications with Illinois Department of Transportation officials.

"Corruption and self-dealing are unacceptable and will be rooted out whether in my administration or the legislature," Pritzker said Friday. Santoy's vetting indicated no problems, and "he was qualified for the position," the governor said. Now, however, it's important "to make sure no cloud is carried over to any work done by the tollway."

Santoy did not return a message seeking comment.

In addition, investigators sought items related to Behnke Materials Engineering and to Michael Vondra and his company Bluff City Materials. Both businesses are tollway subcontractors.

Tollway officials said the agency "has not received a subpoena for any records related to this investigation. We use a competitive bid process for construction contracts and bid results are reported on the tollway's website as part of our commitment to transparency."

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