Former state Sen. Sandoval dies of COVID-19 complications

CHICAGO (AP) — Former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, who was facing prison after pleading guilty to political corruption, has died from COVID-19 complications, his attorney said Saturday.

Attorney Dylan Smith confirmed the death based on his conversations with Sandoval’s family.

“I was proud to have represented Martin Sandoval,” Smith said. “He was someone of considerable ability who had done a great deal of good in his life and someone who was working very hard to make amends for his mistakes and, in his own way, doing what he could through his cooperation with the government to contribute to their efforts to clean up things in Springfield.

“And I know he was sincerely remorseful for having strayed from his own standards,” Smith said.

Sandoval, the former Senate Transportation Committee chairman, pleaded guilty in January to taking thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the red-light camera company SafeSpeed in exchange for blocking legislation that would hurt it.

Sandoval agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their ongoing corruption probe as part of his plea agreement. Last week, prosecutors told a judge that Sandoval had “provided valuable cooperation that is expected to last at least several more months.”

“I apologize to the people of Illinois and most importantly the constituents that I’ve served over the last 17 years,” he said. “... I intend to fully cooperate with the government, and because of that, I can no longer provide any further comments.”

Sandoval, who resigned Jan. 1, 2020, faced up to about 12½ years in federal prison, but in exchange for his continued cooperation in the probe, prosecutors agreed to recommend a reduced sentence of unspecified length.