Tag Archives: Redflex
Redflex Bribery Scandal Testimony Spotlights Chicago’s Camera Enforcement Programs Based On Greed, Not Safety
Bills, the former Chicago Department of Transportation deputy commissioner is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts as bribes to award Redflex Traffic Systems Chicago’s red light camera contract, then help retain and grow sales for the Arizona-based company.
In the second week of the trial, the Chicago Tribune reports prosecutors played tapes of phone calls recorded by former Redflex salesperson Aaron Rosenberg talking with Bills, where the CDOT manRedflex salesman testifies his role was ‘to keep John Bills happy’ager boasted of adding 120 new red light cameras in one year.
But the nation’s largest red light camera program was created from a bribery scheme.
On Monday, the key figure in the bribery scandal will finally face trial in federal court according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Former Chicago Department of Transportation manager John Bills is accused of accepting over a million dollars in gifts, cars, property and cash in return for insuring Redflex Traffic Systems won and retained the contract for the city’s red light camera program.
That’s at least what the beleaguered Redflex believes in a notice filed in federal court on Monday, September 21st according to Cook County Record.com.
The City of Chicago is going after Redflex to recover over $300 million in damages because the city believes the company violated the terms of their multi-million dollar contract by breaking their word that it did not bribe any city official to win and retain the city’s red light camera contract.
Redflex management appears to have engaged in a bribery scheme with a former Chicago Department of Transportation official to win and retain the city’s lucrative red light camera program. Company executives used a middle-man to funnel over an alleged million dollars of cash and gifts to the city manager.
Shares in Redflex Traffic Systems tumbled to an all-time low of 15 cents per share September 2nd, after the firm told Australian investors that it lost $38 million in the last fiscal year. The stock price rebounded mildly this week as it was trading at 22 cents a share as of September 9th.
But shareholders likely now regret rejecting as inadequate Macquarie Bank’s bid to buy out Redflex at $2.75 a share four years ago.
The takeover bid came long before the firm’s corruption surfaced. Redflex now faces the prospect of paying Chicago, Illinois up to $300 million in penalties for lying to city officials. Under the Windy City’s “false claims” ordinance, Redflex may be held liable for denying that it was engaged in bribery, when the facts now show that it was. Former Redflex executive vice president Aaron M. Rosenberg, who is cooperating with federal prosecutors, filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court as a whistleblower with direct and independent knowledge of the bribery schemes. His filing is a formality, as Chicago has already sent notice of its intent to take over the lawsuit.
It was truth and consequences for Karen Finley on Thursday when the ex-Redflex CEO pleaded guilty in federal court to her role in a bribery scheme to secure, and grow Chicago’s red light camera program according to the Sun-Times.
In admitting her guilt, she faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Finley will be sentenced in February
Finley helped devise a scheme whe.re she funneled cash and gifts to a high-level Department of Transportation manager via a friend of the city employee.
Over a period of years, federal authorities allege Martin O’Malley passed on hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to CDOT manager John Bills. In return, Bills was able to rig the bid for red light cameras to Redflex and help grow the program into the nation’s largest and most lucrative and generate millions of dollars for the red light camera company.
The trial of the former managing deputy commissioner of the transportation department in Chicago, Illinois, will stay in the Windy City. Judge Virginia M. Kendall on Friday issued a ten-page order rejecting an attempt to move the trial of John Bills to Nevada on the grounds that Chicagoans are so blinded by their hatred of red light cameras that they would take their frustration out on him.
“John Bills cannot receive a fair trial in this town,” his attorney, Nishay K. Sawan had argued in January. “He is accused of being a central player in a transaction that helped bring about one of the most unpopular regulatory programs in the city of Chicago’s history — the red light cameras.”
Sawan noted that the Chicago Tribune has been “relentless and fierce” in its coverage of the bribery story since 2012, making it difficult to find a juror who has not formed an opinion about the world’s most lucrative red light camera program.
“As the city, Cook County, and many other municipalities in the Northern District of Illinois have been subject to this unending press, and as these localities make extensive use of these unpopular cameras, a jury is unlikely to be able to check its bias at the door and dispassionately decide solely on the basis of the evidence before it whether or not Mr. Bills is guilty,” Sawan wrote. “They are likely to express their dissatisfaction with the camera system by voting to convict the man who, as the government will argue, bears a great responsibility for the presence of those cameras in the city of Chicago.”
Judge Kendall did not buy the argument that twelve impartial individuals could not be found in a judicial district with eight million residents.
The former head of US operations for Redflex Traffic Systems is expected to plead guilty to federal bribery charges. During a status hearing Monday in the Chicago, Illinois federal courthouse, lawyers for Karen Finley told US District Judge Virginia M. Kendall that their client intended to change her previously entered “not guilty” plea at a hearing scheduled for August 11 at 9:45am.
Last August, federal prosecutors charged Finley with nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, three counts of federal program bribery, and one count of conspiracy in connection with attempts to influence Chicago officials to expand the highly lucrative red light camera contract with the Australian firm. If Finley was offered a plea bargain similar to the one that bribery bag-man Martin O’Malley accepted in December, she will concede to a single count of bribery to avoid a trial.
Alderman Walter Burnett (27th), Chairman of the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, says he invited Inspector General Joseph Ferguson to present his office’s recent findings and recommendations at a hearing Tuesday, October 28th at 3 p.m. at City Hall.
“We need to make sure everything is fair and decent for everyone,” said Burnett. “We definitely don’t want people running the red light but at the same time things need to be fair.”
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) says it’s about time. He and members of the council’s Progressive Caucus have tried to get hearings several times over the past two years of controversy.
“It’s years overdue,” says Waguespack. “With all the issues surrounding the cameras aldermen knew something has to change with this program. It’s been building up for so many years. We’ve been waiting for this a long time.”
Allegedly, Redflex funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts to former city manager John Bills–the man who oversaw the city’s red light camera program–with O’Malley as the conduit.
While O’Malley originally made a plea of not guilty when he was indicted earlier in the year in federal court.
However, according to the Sun-Times court documents indicate O’Malley has been cooperating with the feds and is planning to change his plea to guilty in December.
O’Malley’s cooperation probably puts additional pressure on Bills and former Redflex CEO Karen Finlay who both entered pleas of not guilty to their indictment.
Here’s the full story, “Key player in red light camera scandal plans to plead guilty.”
A newly released report from Chicago’s Inspector General’s Office slams the city’s management of its red light camera program and its oversight of the program’s former vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems.
The report, released Friday morning, is the result of an OIG investigation into a series of mysterious spikes in red light camera tickets at a handful of intersections uncovered by the Chicago Tribune this past summer. The story spotlighted 12 intersections where ticketing would jump dramatically for a short period of time, then subside just as suddenly, resulting in nearly 16,000 questionable violations.
After the Tribune story broke, members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus wrote a letter to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson asking him to investigate these issues.
What the OIG investigation revealed was the Chicago Department of Transportation poorly managed the city’s red light camera program while Redflex was the vendor, allowing Redflex to avoid its contractual duties to report enforcement anomalies over the 11 years the company held the contract.
Redflex was banned from bidding on the new contract when an alleged bribery scandal came to light which implicated company management and a former CDOT manager who oversaw the program.