Former Crestwood mayor sentenced to 1 year in red-light camera bribery scheme
CRESTWOOD, Ill. - Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta was sentenced Monday to one year in prison, five months after he quit and admitted he took a secret $5,000 cash bribe while corruptly promising to hike the number of red-light camera tickets issued in the southwest suburb.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin told Presta that "public officials are held to a higher standard because you are given the power to affect people’s lives."
And he called corruption in Illinois "death by a thousand cuts."
Presta was first recorded making promises to red light camera executives, telling them there was a "new sheriff in town."
He was later caught in undercover FBI video taking an envelope authorities say contained a $5,000 bribe to get a second red-light camera in the village of Crestwood.
The executive was later fired. Presta was reelected in 2021 while under indictment. He agreed to a plea agreement, admitting to bribery, lying on his taxes and official misconduct.
Before he was sentenced, Presta told the judge "I never thought I would be a criminal defendant." He apologized for not paying his taxes and admitted he "accepted a bribe as mayor of Crestwood."
Meanwhile, the judge wondered aloud how many red-light camera tickets would not have been written had it not been for Presta’s conduct.
Last week, Austin Berg with the Illinois Policy Institute reacted after the mayor of Oakbrook Terrace was indicted in a similar scheme.
"I think the question for Springfield needs to be how many more corruption indictments do we need surrounding red-light cameras to prove politicians can't use this tool responsibly," Berg said.
Presta, who is 71 years old, is due to be sentenced Monday.
Prosecutors are asking that he received a sentence of up to two and a half years. Presta's attorneys are asking for a light sentence or probation.
They said Presta is facing health issues, has accepted responsibility for his actions, and is very remorseful.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.