East Dundee project at center of federal bribe indictment

 
 
Updated 3/7/2020 5:13 PM

A project to install a traffic light for a development in East Dundee is at the center of a federal bribery indictment connected to disgraced former state Sen. Martin Sandoval.

Consultant William A. Helm was indicted on charges he gave Sandoval $5,000 or more in bribes after he was hired by a construction company for help in securing approval for the project from the Illinois Department of Transportation, according to documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The transactions were made from about July 2018 to November 2018, documents said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

East Dundee Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen identified the project as a traffic light and road improvements at the intersection of Route 72 and Christina Drive, where Terra Business Park is located.

Johnsen said she and Village President Lael Miller were told by federal investigators they were not the target of the investigation. They were interviewed and subpoenaed as witnesses to testify before a federal grand jury last month, she said.

"I want you to know that neither I nor President Miller were aware of any potential criminal activity associated with the project," Johnsen said in a memorandum to the village board that she shared with the media.

Court records don't list an attorney for Helm, whose arraignment is scheduled for March 10.

The federal indictment identifies the construction company that hired Helm only as "Company A." The company sought approval from IDOT for the traffic light "in or around 2017," documents say.

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Johnsen said she doesn't know who Company A is.

Terra Business Park is owned by developer Joseph "Joe" Palumbo of PAL Land LLC, Johnsen said.

Palumbo has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Palumbo Management LLC, whose website identifies it as property manager focusing on services out of Terra Business Park, did not return phone and email requests for comment Saturday.

Miller said investigators especially were interested in a meeting that village officials had last summer with IDOT "and others." He declined to give more specifics.

In her memo, Johnsen wrote, "It is very unfortunate to see economic development projects and efforts intended to create jobs, strengthen our tax base, and stabilize the local economy jeopardized because of the alleged criminal activity of a few individuals."

Sandoval, who used to chair the Senate's transportation committee, pleaded guilty in January to taking about $250,000 in bribes from a red-light camera company. He indicated he would cooperate in the ongoing federal investigation about corruption in Illinois.

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