Monthly Archives: May 2014

Federal Red Light Scam Probe Heats Up – Coming to a City Near You

The dominos started to tumble in Chicago and Texas was named by the former employee at the center of this maelstrom as a state where these bribes took place. Wonder how long before the Justice Department looks this way?

Retired Chicago official charged with graft over red light cameras.

(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.

As a follow up to this article, I’d like to add that a whistleblower blew the lid off this thing in 2010 and Redflex had its own internal investigation which, of course, showed no bribery had taken place.  Only after the Chicago Tribune did some digging in 2012 did they finally admit to the scam after a second internal investigation and on the eve of the city being forced to recognize the fraud.

We can win. Information is our ammunition. Our voices are our weapons. I am continuing to request more from our city each day regarding their dealings with this scandalous company. Whether through recognition that these laws are unconstitutional or that the people behind them are money hungry criminals, these cameras will come down.

Text of Redflex Internal Investigation

Advertisements

Red Light Cameras will Cost Denton Millions

The fight is not over. Free Denton has fallen silent for a few weeks while more information collects and to wait and see the results of our city elections. I would like to thank everyone that  contacted our candidates and let them know your stance on the red light camera scam.

The media thus far, refuses to investigate this story, so we have requested documents through the open government act and will provide you with a detailed history of red light camera abuse – assuming the city doesn’t try to dodge the Texas Open Government act and Freedom of Information Act.

Until then, there is plenty of readily available information to point to the shady nature of this entire red light camera enterprise.

On April 1, 2013, the Denton Traffic Safety Commission held a meeting where member Gilmore Morris asked Captain Scott Fletcher why some communities were removing these red light cameras.

Captain Fletcher’s response danced around the truth. He first deflected by speaking about cities outside of our own state and commented on the collection procedure being a motivating factor for removal. He then mentioned that in Houston, the city had turned them off due to a citizen’s group forcing a vote but the cameras had been turned back on again.

Let me share some truth.

A full year before Morris asked this question, Houston had settled a lawsuit for 12 million dollars and shut the red light cameras down, for good.

A citizen’s group had risen up and forced a vote which the city initially fought but was forced to accept in August of 2011. They then entered into a protracted legal battle with the camera vendor for breach of contract.

Any reason why Captain Fletcher might be reluctant to tell the traffic Safety Commission about this?

By the April 2013 meeting, several Texas cities had voted to ban these Orwellian devices. Houston, Baytown, College Station, League City just to name a few. When will we abandon this sinking ship? After the city has installed dozens more cameras and looted motorists of millions more in their thinly disguised money-making scheme? How many millions will the ensuing lawsuit cost us?

But if Captain Fletcher had spelled out the cost, what could the Traffic Safety Commission have done?

Nothing.

The Commission is a powerless farce meant to give an appearance of oversight to an out of control, corrupt program. In 2009, the city voted to dissolve the Commission which at least one former member, John Crew. believed, at the time was “was a way to silence commission members from bringing up things the city doesn’t want to discuss.”

It was reformed with a directive that it was simply an advisory board and given no power. The following year, the red light camera program was expanded.

Recently, Gilmore Morris, the member who asked the question why communities were banning red light cameras and received the incomplete answer, resigned.

Further, as recently noted on Free Denton, this question was answered without disclosure of a recent scandal involving our own vendor, Redlex. The Chicago bribery scandal had them kicked out of that city by February 2013, two months prior to this meeting in an investigation which had been underway since November 2012.

The media may be reluctant to report on this, but stay tuned to Free Denton for more information about this growing scandal and how you can help make Denton an inviting and safe community again.

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=8513986

http://www.dallasnews.com/incoming/20101217-ordinance-ousts-all-on-city-traffic-panel.ece

http://www.cityofdenton.com/Home/ShowDocument?id=10576

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-02-08/news/ct-met-chicago-red-light-investigation-0208-20130208_1_redflex-holdings-red-light-camera-redflex-contract

http://www.dallasnews.com/incoming/20101217-ordinance-ousts-all-on-city-traffic-panel.ece

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20140507-denton-city-council-bans-texting-while-driving-approves-gas-drilling-moratorium.ece