A massive, ongoing federal corruption probe in Illinois has ensnared another well-connected source.
Long-time political operative Rudy Acosta Sr. is facing allegations that he withheld information from the FBI. Acosta is a former precinct captain in Chicago Ald. Ed Burke’s 14th Ward who also had close ties to former Illinois State Sen. Martin Sandoval. Both officials have recently been under federal indictment on corruption-related charges.
Prosecutors filed paperwork Monday alleging agents questioned Acosta six times and that Acosta concealed the fact that he had been making payments to “State Sen. A.” They also say he was not forthcoming with answers about receiving benefits from “Individual A.”
That unnamed state senator was Democrat Martin Sandoval, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
Sandoval died of COVID-19 in December. He had pleaded guilty to bribery and tax evasion charges relating to his support of the red light camera industry, and was cooperating with the federal government in its corruption investigation. He resigned from the legislature months after federal agents raided his Springfield office in broad daylight.
Individual A is an unidentified Illinois businessperson who “periodically sought official action from State Senator A.” Prosecutors say Individual A provided Acosta and State Senator A “free services, meals, and travel.”
Prosecutors usually file criminal information documents in lieu of indicting someone when the defendant is cooperating.
Acosta’s ties to Sandoval go back years.
The Chicago Sun-Times has reported that Acosta’s one-time Archer Heights home hosted five students to whom Sandoval once offered legislative scholarships as part of a now-disbanded program that let lawmakers offer students in their legislative districts free tuition at public universities in Illinois.
Several of those students came from outside Sandoval’s district but used Acosta’s home address to claim in-district residency, including the son of reputed mobster Michael C. “Jaws” Giorango.
The State Board of Education turned Sandoval’s legislative scholarship records over to the FBI for investigation in 2011, but no charges were ever filed.
Acosta’s company, Power Washing Pros, also received $277,000 to do work for Commonwealth Edison in 2017. ComEd, which employs Sandoval’s daughter, has admitted it engaged in a years-long effort to influence former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan by giving no-work contracts to Madigan associates in exchange for favorable legislation.
Tony Arnold covers Illinois state politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.