emil jones

Chicago State Senator Indicted in Red-Light Camera Scandal to Appear in Court

Sen. Emil Jones III, the latest public official implicated in the bribery scheme, who also was charged with lying to the FBI, is scheduled for an arraignment hearing

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A Chicago state senator who was indicted on federal charges alleging he sought a bribe to oppose legislation that would have required a statewide evaluation of red-light camera systems is set to appear in court Friday.

Sen. Emil Jones III, the latest public official implicated in the bribery scheme, who also was charged with lying to the FBI, is scheduled for an arraignment hearing.

Prosecutors allege that Jones, a South Side Democrat, told an individual with an interest in the camera system operator SafeSpeed that he would protect it from legislation in the General Assembly in exchange for $5,000 and a job for an unnamed associate.

Prosecutors did not name the red-light camera company, but SafeSpeed issued a statement Tuesday indicating that a former associate was involved.

Gov. JB Pritzker is calling on two democratic state senators to step down, initially saying political corruption was a bipartisan problem but today taking a stronger stand. One of the senators is not involved in a political corruption case, but rather a nasty divorce. NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern reports.

“As new developments in federal investigations come to light, SafeSpeed remains both shocked and saddened that one of its former colleagues was engaged in criminal conduct,” the company said.

Neither SafeSpeed nor its current owners have been charged with any wrongdoing.

Jones, the deputy majority leader in the Illinois Senate, has not responded to a request for comment left with his Chicago office. His father, former state Senate President Emil Jones Jr., issued a statement saying “the charges brought against my son, Emil Jones III, do not reflect the man he is. Everyone knows he is an honest, hardworking legislator.”

Gov. Pritzker on Thursday called for Jones and Sen. Michael Hastings, who is accused of abusing women, to resign from their Senate seats.

“Sen. Jones is accused of accepting bribes. And Senator Hastings is accused of abusing women. They should answer the charges and have their day in court. But in the best interests of their constituents, these men must resign from their offices,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Resigning only their leadership roles falls short of what the public should expect. I want to send a clear message to the people of Illinois: corruption and abuse have no place here.”

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon filed a letter with the secretary of the Senate this week saying he “asked for and received” Jones’ resignation as chair of the Senate Licensed Activities Committee.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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