Former Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval died this morning at the age of 59 after a battle with COVID-19. Sandoval’s defense attorney Dylan Smith confirmed the news this afternoon in a released statement despite the Cook County Coroner saying that the cause of Sandoval’s death was yet undetermined.
Sandoval plead guilty to bribery and tax evasion in January of this year and stepped down shortly from his position in the State Senate shortly after.
Sandoval’s guilty plea represented the first conviction to arise from a series of high-profile federal raids in 2019 that targeted several power brokers in Springfield that have currently ensnared House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Sandoval’s guilty plea led to months long cooperation with federal investigators into bribery probes. Sandoval had recently been praised by federal prosecutors for the amount of cooperation he had been providing which was outlined in a recent affidavit. The affidavit published last week said that Sandoval’s cooperation was expected to continue over the next several months.
Sandoval’s Attorney, Dylan Smith said in his press release this afternoon that his client “had made mistakes and strayed from his own standards and from the time I spent with Marty, what I saw was that he was sincerely remorseful for the mistakes he had made. He was going through a process of genuinely trying to make amends for those mistakes through his cooperation with the government. And in his own way trying to contribute to the US Attorney’s efforts to clean things up in Springfield. I hope that the larger public and his former colleagues will remember him not only for his mistake but for the larger good that he did in his life. I will remember him as someone with a big heart who had a very deep love for his family.”
Sandoval’s death comes at an interesting time in ongoing investigations into Madigan and the decades-long patronage and bribery scheme ensnaring energy giant Commonwealth Edison. During the 2019 federal raids, Sandoval’s office was also subpoenaed for documents relating to ComEd and the SmartGrid legislation that passed in 2011. U.S. Attorney John Lausch’s office gave no comment to WBEZ in Chicago this afternoon when questioned about Sandoval’s sudden passing.