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article imageChicago sues red-light camera firm for bribery scheme

By Caroline Leopold     Sep 1, 2015 in Crime
Chicago - The City of Chicago has filed suit against former red light camera operator, Redflex Traffic Systems, for more than $300 million on grounds the entire program was built on a $2 million bribery scheme.
According to court filings unsealed late last week, Rahm Emanuel's administration has filed a lawsuit against Redflex, a company that had sold the City of Chicago red light cameras. The Chicago suit is in conjunction with a case filed by Aaron Rosenberg who was a former Redflex executive and whistle blower.
According to the complaint, hosted in full by the Chicago Tribune, Redflex engaged in "systematic bribery" to get red light contracts from 2003 to 2012. The complaint names John Bills, deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation as the City official involved in the bribery scheme.
Before the recent suit, Emanuel had defended Redflex and the cameras up until a month before a federal criminal investigation began. According to a Chicago Tribune report, the red light camera system had been lucrative for the City and raked in $68 million in 2013.
Rosenberg was hired in 2002 as vice president of marketing and sales and had meetings with Bills who said he could help Redflex win a Chicago contract, the complaint alleges. Once Redflex won the contract, Bills allegedly told Rosenberg: "It's time to make good" and said he wanted between $100,000 and $200,000, according to the complaint.
Reflex contracts with Chicago grew from $124 million. Bills received an estimated $2 million in bribes, which also included a condominium and a Mercedes, according to an affadavit.
The Chicago lawsuit comes on the heels of federal charges. Former Redflex chief executive officer Karen Finley, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. She is awaiting sentencing in February 2016 and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to an FBI statement.
John Bills, 54, pleaded not guilty to a laundry list of charges including mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery, filing a false federal income tax return, extortion, and conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, according to the FBI. His trial is scheduled for October.
Martin O'Malley, 73, who was an independent contractor that funneled roughly $2 million in bribes to Bills has pleaded guilty. He faces up to five years in prison, but may get leniency due to poor health and for cooperating with authorities, according to the Chicago Tribune.
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