CRESTWOOD, IL — Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta will step down Thursday, citing health issues, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Village Board is expected to name a trustee to be acting mayor until April 2023 at its Thursday meeting, Presta told The Tribune.

Presta, 71, said that he will take a newly-created position with the village that will pay him the same salary. He has served as mayor of Crestwood since 2013, and won reelection to a third term in April despite an ongoing federal investigation.

Presta was indicted in August 2020 on federal charges of bribery, filing false tax returns, and lying to federal investigators. According to the federal complaint, Presta was caught in March 2018 accepting a bribe from SafeSpeed LLC, a company that was looking to build several red light cameras in the village at the time.

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According to the complaint, Presta met with Omar Maani, a former executive for SafeSpeed. Maani, who had been terminated from the company, was cooperating with the FBI and recording an exchange where Presta accepted $5000 in an envelope.

Presta’s campaign has received over $14,000 for SafeSpeed or its backers, according to a Chicago Tribune investigation.

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Illinois State Board of Elections records show Presta amended his campaign disclosure statement to say that he had received an in-kind campaign donation from Maani for “election day workers and expenses.” Maani, who was terminated from SafeSpeed, was actually cooperating with the FBI, and the entire exchange was recorded.

SafeSpeed has said that it “does not condone the conduct alleged in (Presta) indictment.” SafeSpeed has also said in a civil filing that it was not aware of any bribes made on its behalf, according to an earlier article from the Chicago Tribune. The company is the subject of a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company installed red light cameras at unnecessary intersections.

Presta is also accused of “willfully” filing false income tax returns for 2015 and 2018, and failing to file an income tax in 2014.

Presta initially pleaded not guilty to the 2020 indictment, but in September 2021 a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago told numerous news outlets that Presta “indicated a willingness to plead guilty” in a change of plea hearing scheduled for Oct. 29. Presta was originally scheduled to go to trial Dec. 6.

In a Tuesday letter sent to village trustees, Presta said that he feels he can no longer fulfill his responsibilities as mayor due to “severe health problems,” according to the Tribune.

On Thursday, village trustees will consider not only who should replace Presta, but also whether or not to create a new position of “economic development director” that would pay $65,000 a year, the same salary Presta made as mayor. Presta told the Tribune that if such a position is created, he will take it.

Presta has been a village trustee since 2007, and mayor since 2013.

His indictment is a part of a wide-ranging probe into red light ticketing that examined Maani’s alleged payment of $70,000 in government funds to the late Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval, who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. Worth Township former Supervisor John O’Sullivan also pleaded guilty to a similar scheme, according to the Tribune.


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