Retired Chicago official charged with graft over red light cameras

Wed May 14, 2014 11:30pm EDT

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(Reuters) - A retired Chicago official who once ran the city's red light camera program was charged with graft on Wednesday on suspicion of taking bribes in return for contracts worth $124 million for cameras used to catch motorists running stop lights.

John Bills, 52, was charged with one count of bribery in U.S. District Court for allegedly steering city contracts for 384 cameras and other services to Redflex Traffic Systems, the U.S. Department of Justice in Chicago said in a statement.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Bills' attorney, Nishay Sanan, said the veteran former city official was being used as a scapegoat by prosecutors who sought to implicate others in the scheme.

Redflex said it has been cooperating with authorities.

"Last year, we publicly released the findings of our internal investigation into the conduct of several former employees and announced new leadership, new policies and a line between our past and today's Redflex," it said in a statement.

Bills managed the red light camera program until he retired in 2011 after working for the city for 32 years, according to prosecutors.

An unnamed individual at Reflex was said to have funneled more than $643,000 in cash to Bills between 2006 and 2011, according to the complaint, which said he spent the money for travel, a luxury car and to pay off loans.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for an investigation of Redflex in 2012 before the city cut ties with the company, according to the Tribune.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Jon Herskovitz, Tom Brown and Clarence Fernandez)

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Comments (1)
njglea wrote:
Traffic cameras are an affront to democracy and just one more way to tax us and replace people with technology. Small cities especially are making a killing with this new form of taxation. I received a ticket for not stopping long enough – or far enough behind the intersection – before taking a free right turn when there was no cross traffic in sight and no traffic danger. The morning I went to court to contest the ticket there were about 40 others with tickets at that session alone. Unlike me, most had done their homework, said they weren’t driving the car and their tickets were thrown out because these particular cameras can’t see who is driving. My $120 ticket was reduced by half because I had stopped before taking a right hand turn. This new form of entrapment is not acceptable. I’ve heard that previous law enforcement people started these companies so of course they have an inside track to government. Let’s see more press about these companies. More states, counties and cities should outlaw traffic cameras as Texas and Missouri have done because these bogus tickets can prevent one from registering their car until the ticket is paid.

May 15, 2014 10:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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