State Sen. Emil Jones III to be arraigned Friday on bribery charges

Shortly after pleading not responsible to federal bribery charges Friday, Illinois state Sen. Emil Jones III was informed his case will subsequent be in court docket on Nov. 4.

It was an arbitrary standing date so far as the federal prison justice system goes — however not a lot for Jones.

Four days after that listening to, the Far South Side Democrat will be on the poll within the Nov. 8 common election, the place he’s operating unopposed for a brand new time period.

That only-in-Illinois actuality raised extra questions in regards to the political future for Jones, who was charged earlier within the week with accepting bribes from a red-light digicam company govt in alternate for killing laws that went towards the company’s pursuits.

The arraignment Friday got here amid growing stress for Jones to step down from the seat he’s held since 2009, having adopted his highly effective father, then-Senate President Emil Jones Jr., into the seat the elder Jones held for many years.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday known as for Jones to resign, sooner or later after Jones stepped down from his unpaid put up as deputy chief for the Senate Democrats and his $11,098-per-year committee chair position on the request of Senate President Don Harmon.

Even if Jones had been to resign, nonetheless, his identify will possible stay on the poll due to early voting and mail-in ballots, election officers have stated.

Jones, 44, was charged in a prison data made public Tuesday with bribery and mendacity to federal brokers. The most severe cost carries up to 10 years in jail, whereas the others have a five-year most time period, in accordance to federal prosecutors.

Defendants charged by data, as opposed to grand jury indictment, sometimes intend to plead responsible down the highway. Jones has not spoken publicly in regards to the case and his attorneys haven’t responded to requests for remark.

Jones entered a proper plea to the charges throughout a telephonic listening to earlier than U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood. “I plead not guilty, your honor,” he stated in a relaxed voice.

Before getting into his plea, Jones answered succinctly because the decide decided he understood the proceedings. He confirmed his age, stated he has no underlying well being points, saying, “I’m feeling fine your honor.”

Asked about his instructional background, Jones stated, “I didn’t graduate but I attended some college.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Durkin stated the federal government will be turning over proof within the case over the subsequent a number of weeks that’s “somewhat voluminous.”

The decide allowed Jones to stay free on a recognizance bond whereas his case is pending.

Jones’ father was one of many state’s strongest machine Democrats who usually batted away allegations of nepotism and famously gave a lift to the budding political career of Barack Obama, who rose from the Illinois Senate to ultimately develop into president. In a press release Tuesday, the previous Senate president defended his son, saying the charges “do not reflect the man he is.”

“Everyone knows he is an honest, hardworking legislator,” Jones Jr. stated. “I intend to fight with him and stand alongside him throughout this process.”

Jones III was the most recent politician to be charged within the sweeping federal investigation centered on red-light cameras put in by SafeSpeed LLC, a as soon as clout-heavy digicam company that secured contracts to run red-light cameras in practically two dozen Chicago suburbs that generated tens of millions of {dollars} in fines from motorists yearly.

Targeting illicit efforts to grease the way in which for the cameras, the probe broke large open in 2019 when brokers raided the places of work of then-state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who on the time was the pinnacle of the state Senate’s highly effective Transportation Committee.

In February 2019, Jones launched a invoice within the Senate that might have required the Illinois Department of Transportation to conduct a statewide research of automated site visitors legislation enforcement programs, together with red-light cameras comparable to these operated by SafeSpeed, in accordance to the six-page data.

The charges alleged Jones agreed with SafeSpeed govt and co-founder Omar Maani — who was secretly cooperating with federal investigators — to “protect” SafeSpeed by limiting any site visitors research to the town of Chicago, excluding the suburbs the place the company does a lot of its business.

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In alternate, Jones took $5,000 in advantages and needed a job and extra funds for an unnamed affiliate, Individual B, in accordance to the charges. In August 2019, Jones informed Maani that if he contributed $5,000 by sponsoring an occasion, they “would not have to report that contribution” on state marketing campaign funding stories, the charges alleged.

On Sept. 24, 2019, the day of the FBI raid on Sandoval’s places of work, Jones was interviewed by brokers. According to the charges, he lied by saying he had not agreed to shield SafeSpeed in alternate for Maani hiring or paying Individual B and had not mentioned any plan with Maani to skirt marketing campaign financing disclosures.

Records from the Illinois General Assembly present that Jones’ proposal was permitted by the Senate Transportation Committee on Nov. 19, 2019, which on the time was not being headed by Sandoval as a result of he had stepped down as head of the panel in October of that year amid the federal investigation.

Sandoval would ultimately be indicted and plead responsible to bribery-related corruption counts, however he died of COVID-19 issues in December 2020 whereas cooperating with the federal government.

The red-light digicam investigation has up to now ensnared greater than a dozen politicians, political operatives and businessmen, a lot of whom had been both moonlighting for SafeSpeed as consultants or had direct affect on simply how a lot money the company may rake in.

SafeSpeed and its president, Nikki Zollar, have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying Maani was working with out the company’s information or approval. Maani is not affiliated with the company.

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