• Aug 14, 2014
A former chief executive officer of one of the world's largest makers of red-light traffic cameras was indicted on federal corruption charges Wednesday, along with two city officials in Chicago.

A federal grand jury returned a 23-count indictment against the three, alleging that ex-Redflex CEO Karen Finley provided approximately $570,000 in cash and other improper benefits to an assistant transportation commissioner in exchange for inside information that helped the Phoenix-based company win contracts in Chicago worth as much as $124 million.

For a decade, Finley schemed with city official John Bills to help secure the rights to city contracts by providing him cash, meals, hotel stays, rental cars and golf outings, according to the charges. Redflex funneled more money to Bills through a friend, Martin O'Malley, who was hired as an independent contractor by the company and passed some of his $2 million in compensation back to Bills, the indictment alleges.

"When public officials peddle influence for profit, the consequences are severe," said Zachary T. Fardon, US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. "When corporate executives enable that corruption, the same rule applies. We will attack alleged public corruption from every angle.
Red Light Cameras ChicagoFederal prosecutors said their investigation is ongoing. The three will be arraigned on a still-to-be-determined date in Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune first reported the relationship between Bills and Redflex nearly two years ago, and the US Attorney's Office alleges the payoffs took place between late 2002 and late 2012.

The indictments come amid huge problems for the red-light cameras in the city and questions about the worth of such systems in general. Last month, the Tribune reported dozens of dramatic spikes in the number of tickets generated by individual cameras at seemingly random times and places throughout the city. The city had fought hard to withhold the public data reporters used to detail the anomalies, the newspaper noted in its coverage. The unexplained spikes resulted in thousands of undeserved $100 tickets.

Finley, a resident of Cave Creek, AZ, started seeking Bills' influence in late 2002, and in February 2003, Bills provided information to give Redflex an advantage over its competitor in a pilot program, according to the charges. Bills, a voting member of an evaluation committee, helped steer permanent contracts toward the company.

"Today's indictment underscores our commitment to work in a collaborative effort to promote honest and ethical government at all levels and to prosecute those who allegedly violated the public's trust," said Robert J. Holley, special agent in charge of the Chicago office of the FBI.

Between 2004 and 2008, Chicago paid Reflex approximately $25 million to install and maintain more than 100 red-light cameras in city intersections.

Between 2004 and 2008, Chicago paid Reflex approximately $25 million to install and maintain more than 100 red-light cameras in city intersections. The company also assisted in processing violations.

Redflex won another contract from the city in February 2008 to operate the existing system worth $33 million, and Bills was again a member of the evaluation committee that led to a $66 million contract in an expansion of the program which resulted in nearly 250 more red-light cameras installed in the city.

By 2010, the US Attorney's Office says Chicago had the largest red-light program in the United States, and that the city represented 20 percent of all Redflex's business. Amid revelations about Finley and Bills, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in February 2013 the city would stop doing business with Redflex.

Today, Redflex says it operates more than 2,000 photo-enforcement systems in more than 220 cities throughout North America, according to its website.

In a statement issued Wednesday, a spokesperson for Redflex said, "Last year we announced aggressive leadership changes, industry leading compliance policies and procedures and a distinction between our past and present. RedFlex Traffic Systems is moving forward. Since we announced these changes we have signed, renewed or executed over 100 contracts."


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 52 Comments
      RGT881
      • 4 Months Ago

      What Rahm meant is that Chicago won't do new business for RedFlex, but existing business will continue. In other words, nothing will change, only people will continue to get screwed by unethical businesses and public officials like Rahm. 

      Car Guy
      • 4 Months Ago

      Three truths in life:  death, taxes and corruption in Chicago

        Larry Litmanen
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Car Guy

        You are a racist for suggesting that 0bama and Rod Blagojevich are corrupt.

          RocketRed
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen

          Dont' forget about Ryan.  And Cunningham. And McDonnell.  R's and D's both put their hands in the cookie jar.  It's a way of life for politicians.  Obama, thus far, has yet to be seen reaching in, so we can leave him out.  

          knightrider_6
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen

          and you are sexist for calling Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman bimbos

          BodyBlue
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen

          Welcome to the world of Huffpost readers and editors.  Anybody that does not like Obams policies is a racist and soon when Hillary runs for Pres anybody that does not like her policies will be a sexist.  Its so funny since liberals are the biggest bigots on the planet.

          churchmotor
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen

          Don't leave out Jesse Jackson Jr. and all that family Chicago corruption.

      rcavaretti
      • 4 Months Ago

      One CEO up on corruption charges.  Next.

      Just Stuff
      • 4 Months Ago

      I'll bet this isn't the only city, the money made on these cameras is just to much for politicians/city officials to resist.

      churchmotor
      • 4 Months Ago

      Corruption

      Politics

      Chicago

      NO.  No way.  I don't believe it.

        knightrider_6
        • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
        @churchmotor
        This is just like Dick Cheney giving HALIBURTON  no bid contracts, except those were 100 times bigger.

        Dick Cheney makes John Bills look like a petty thief
          churchmotor
          • 4 Months Ago
          @knightrider_6

          You wanna talk about "no bid".  That was one of Obammy's campaign promises.


          Guess what, Obammy is still using Haliburton also, and Michelle's College roommate was paid millions and millions and millions to build the Obammycare website.


          NO BID.


          And it didn't even work.

      m3laszlo
      • 4 Months Ago

      Couldn't happen to a nicer "guy"

      Kyle Chessman
      • 4 Months Ago

      The government of the whole state of Illinois needs to be indicted on corruption charges.  It's one of the only states where it's illegal to film a police officer performing his duties.

        SloopJohnB
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Kyle Chessman

        It may be illegal, but it can't stand up once you get to federal court for violation of your civil rights.  The problem is you get to spend some time in Cook County Jail before your lawyer gets you out and it costs money.  Sooner or later the city settles, but you got some stick time from the Blue Gang…..

        Brian Paulson
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Kyle Chessman
        Good news everyone! that is no longer true! http://www.infowars.com/supreme-court-upholds-right-to-film-police-even-in-illinois/


        BodyBlue
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Kyle Chessman

        but, but, Chicago is run by Democrats so it obvious that you dont know what is good for you since big government ALWAYS knows better, just ask Barry and his merry band of Commies in his cabinet. 

        Sanchez
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Kyle Chessman

        I'm sure glad the Illinois mafia is running our country now.

      dukeisduke
      • 4 Months Ago

      What, contractors, Chicago officials, and bribery?  Unheard of! :-)

      Adamnski
      • 4 Months Ago

      No Way! Bribed Chicago officials! That never happens.

      superlightv12
      • 4 Months Ago

      I'm hoping that one day soon Rahm will be cell mates with Blago. I just can't figure out why the Feds have not just arrested the entire government of Chicago and Illinois. Must be taking pay-offs too.

      Timothy Tibbetts
      • 4 Months Ago

      Yay. Politics. Walking away.

      Jim R
      • 4 Months Ago

      What a shock. Business gets in bed with government and corruption results.  Never would've guessed.  And in Chicago, of all places.  That's never happened before.

    • Load More Comments