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Updated Aug 13, 2014 - 6:49 pm

Feds bring charges against ex-boss of Phoenix red-light camera company

CHICAGO — A former executive of a Phoenix-based company was indicted on
public corruption charges Wednesday in an ongoing federal investigation in
Chicago of one of the nation’s largest red-light camera programs.

Karen Finley, 54, the CEO of Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. until 2013, is
accused of funneling nearly $600,000 in cash and other benefits to a retired
Chicago official for his help in landing the firm $124 million in city

Chicago awarded its first contract to Redflex in 2003 and the signed others
later for the city’s first red-light enforcement program. It uses cameras to
automatically record and ticket drivers who run red lights.

The ex-city official, 52-year-old John Bills, was charged in May with one count
of bribery. In the new indictment, the longtime transportation department
official faces additional charges, including extortion and filing false income
tax returns.

Finley, of Cave Creek, Arizona, was charged with multiple counts of fraud and
bribery, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. A conviction on
just one count of fraud carries a maximum 20-year prison term.

Finley was not arrested and will be arraigned later. A message seeking comment
left at a residential telephone number for Finley in Cave Creek was not

After Bills was arrested and then released pending trial in May, his lawyer,
Nishay Sanan, said his client never took bribes from anyone, and he described
Bills as a “scapegoat.”

It’s just the latest in a long line of public corruption cases for Illinois,
where the state’s previous two governors — one Democrat and one Republican —
were convicted on corruption-related charges.

The U.S. attorney in Chicago said the red-light prosecutions illustrated his
office’s commitment to rooting out corruption.

“We will attack alleged public corruption from every angle,” Zachary Fardon
said Wednesday in a written statement.

Also named in Wednesday’s indictment is Martin O’Malley, 73, of Worth, a former
Reflex company liaison. He faces one bribery count for allegedly passing much of
his $2 million Redflex compensation to Bills. There was no public phone listing
for O’Malley.

Court documents say that the money that went to Bills may have originated with
Redflex, but federal authorities have not accused the company itself of

Redflex released the following statement:

“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. Redflex has cooperated fully with the investigative authorities while maintaining the integrity of our customer programs. Our focus is on making a life-saving difference in the communities we serve across the country.”


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