Former red light camera CEO sentenced to 30 months in Chicago bribe scheme

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 10, 2016 3:49 PM

(Reuters) - The former chief executive of a red-light camera company that used to run Chicago's controversial traffic cameras was sentenced on Thursday to 30 months in federal prison in connection with a bribery scheme, prosecutors said.

Karen Finley, 57, was also ordered to pay $2 million in restitution after pleading guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit bribery before a federal judge in August 2015, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for northern Illinois.

Attorneys for Finley could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.

Finley, former transportation official John Bills, and Bills' friend Martin O'Malley, who worked as a contractor for Redflex, conspired for Bills to receive $570,000 in cash, an Arizona condo and other kickbacks, according to a federal indictment. In exchange, Bills made sure Redflex maintained lucrative traffic-control camera contracts.

O'Malley, who is different from the former Maryland governor who ran for president, testified against Bills in the case saying he often stuffed lavish bonuses into envelopes and gave them to Bills in Chicago restaurants.

Bills was sentenced in August to 10 years in prison over the scheme. O'Malley pleaded guilty and was sentenced in September to six months in prison.

Chicago's unpopular traffic cameras include 174 installed at intersections with stop-lights and 144 speed cameras near schools and parks. The Australia-based Redflex had contracts with Chicago for 11 years, making as much as $25 million a year.

The company was barred in 2013 from doing business with the city and a division of Xerox Corp now runs Chicago's red-light cameras.

Finley in June pleaded guilty to a similar charge in Ohio and federal prosecutors have agreed that she will serve prison sentences in both cases simultaneously. She was sentenced to a shorter 14-month prison sentence in Ohio last month, according to the Chicago Tribune.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by James Dalgleish)