Chicago bagman who helped DOJ in red light camera case gets 6 months

ArsTechnica – by Cyrus Farivar

The Chicago man who served as a go-between for a local transportation official and a major red light camera company, Redflex, was sentenced Monday to six months in federal prison.

In 2014, Martin O’Malley was the first to plead guilty in the trio of criminal cases involving Redflex. (This Martin O’Malley should not be confused with the former governor of Maryland and Democratic presidential candidate.)

O’Malley was paid $2 million for his services, which was more than anyone on Redflex’s official payroll. But according to prosecutors, much of that money was funneled to John Bills, a former managing deputy commissioner at the Department of Transportation and a longtime friend of O’Malley’s.

Bills helped steer the City of Chicago to do business with Redflex. Chicago was at one time the company’s largest deal worldwide. Since losing the Chicago contract as a result of this corruption scandal, Redflex’s 2013 pre-tax profits in its North American division (its corporate parent is an Australian company) plummeted more than 33 percent—from $3.4 million in the first half of 2013 to $2.28 million in the second half.

Bills was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison. He will also have to pay $2 million in restitution. O’Malley and the then-CEO of Redflex’s American subsidiary, Karen Finley, both testified at Bills’ trial. Finley has also pleaded guilty in two different federal cases in Ohio and Illinois. She is scheduled to be sentenced by US District Judge Virginia Kendall on November 10.

In court, O’Malley described his own actions as “deplorable.”

O’Malley and Bills met each other at Alcoholics Anonymous in 2002. Bills pushed him to accept a $60,000-per-year job and promised more in bonuses and commissions.

At trial, O’Malley said he “spent years” meeting Bills at Manny’s Deli or Schaller’s Pump to pass him envelopes of cash. The various amounts, which were always under $10,000 to avoid federal reporting requirements, were described in e-mails that made reference to an “eight-page speed report” for $8,000, for example.

In December 2013, Ars reported on red light cameras nationwide, with a particular focus on Redflex’s four cameras in the central California town of Modesto.


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