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Redflex Helps Feds, Avoids Charges In Red Light Camera Scandal

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's office have agreed not to seek criminal charges against Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. over a multimillion-dollar scandal involving red-light cameras in Chicago and Ohio.

The agreement was reached partly due to "extensive and thorough cooperation" with the government by Redflex in recent years, a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office said.

The company's cooperation included prosecution of former CEO Karen Finley, who was sentenced in November to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty in 2015 to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery. Former City Hall insider John Bills was sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this year.

Bills helped Redflex cheat its way to $131 million in red-light camera contracts between 2002 and 2011, the Chicago Sun-Times has previously reported. In return, prosecutors say Bills took $680,000 in bribes. That included $560,000 in kickbacks passed to Bills by Martin O'Malley, the elderly, recovering alcoholic Finley agreed to hire in late 2003 though he seemed far from qualified, or even "computer savvy." O'Malley was sentenced to six months in prison.

Under the deal, Redflex will pay an as-yet-undetermined amount of restitution and damages to Chicago. It will also pay $100,000 to the city of Columbus, Ohio, where it also ran the red-light camera program.

Redflex must also cooperate fully with the Department of Justice and any other law enforcement agency designated by the Justice Department, including federal or local authorities in Australia.

Also as part of the agreement, the company accepted responsibility for its conduct related to the illegal activities of employees in recent U.S. investigations.

In exchange, the federal government agreed not to criminally prosecute Redflex for any of the conduct arising out of investigations in Chicago and Columbus.

Redflex is based in Phoenix and owned by Redflex Holdings Group of Melbourne, Australia, which owns and operates a network of digital speed and red-light cameras worldwide. The company installs cameras that automatically record and ticket drivers who run red lights.

Federal officials said that since the start of the investigations, Redflex has made "substantial additions and changes to its compliance program, policies and procedures" and "agreed to adopt new policies to ensure that it maintains a rigorous anti-bribery and anti-corruption compliance code" as well as put procedures in place that will deter or detect violations from now on.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2016. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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