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Former CEO of redlight camera operator pleads guilty to Ohio bribes

A former chief executive officer of Redflex Traffic Systems pleaded guilty Friday to being part of  an eight-year bribery and fraud scheme.

Karen L. Finley, 55, of Cave Creek, Arizona, pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging her with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and honest services wire and mail fraud.

She appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp of the Southern District of Ohio.

Finley signed a plea agreement (pdf) in March but it was sealed until her plea hearing Friday.

Her sentencing date hasn’t been set.

She was indicted in August last year on nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, three counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

From December 2005 to February 2013, she served as CEO of Redflex. It provides red light camera enforcement.

The U.S. unit is part of Redflex Holdings Group based in South Melbourne, Australia.

Finley admitted that between 2005 and 2013 she helped Redflex make illegal campaign contributions to elected officials in Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The contributions were funneled through so-called consultants. In return, Redflex won contracts to operate redlight camera systems.

In December 2014, Martin O’Malley, an agent for Redflex, pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to bribe a Chicago official.

O’Malley, 73, was a Redflex consultant when it won a contract to provide and operate Chicago’s red light cameras in 2003.

Prosecutors said O’Malley gave cash and perks to John Bills, Chicago’s former managing deputy commissioner for transportation.

Bills, 53, was indicted in August 2014 on nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, three counts of bribery, three counts of filing a false income tax return, one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

He has denied the charges and plans to go to trial in Chicago.

O’Malley’s sentencing date hasn’t been set yet. He’s been cooperating with prosecutors.

The Redflex system in Chicago generated nearly $500 million in $100 tickets, becoming the biggest red-light camera operation in the United States.

The company ran the program until March 2014.

O’Malley admitted at a plea hearing last year that he gave Bills nearly $2 million that came from Redflex.

Prosecutors said Bills received a $177,000 condo, Super Bowl tickets, golf outings, a boat, his children’s school fees, his girlfriend’s mortgage, and fees for his divorce lawyer.

O’Malley said Bills had got him the job with Redflex and then demanded the kickbacks.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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