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N.J. State Lawmaker Demands Probe Of Red-Light Camera Vendor After Bribery Claims

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A New Jersey state lawmaker called for an investigation Sunday, in the wake of a lawsuit alleging bribes to government officials in 13 different states by a red-light camera company.

Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems has supplied red-light enforcement cameras to New Jersey and several other states, according to a published report.

The company first came under fire in 2012 in Chicago, when Mayor Rahm Emanuel blocked a new contract with the company amid bribery allegations. The move came following a Chicago Tribune report that Redflex had improperly paid a $910 luxury hotel bill for a city official who was overseeing the red light program the company had operated, Political Editor Craig Dellimore of Chicago's WBBM Newsradio reported at the time.

The company reportedly blamed top sales executive Aaron Rosenberg for the incident, firing him and filing a lawsuit against him, CBS affiliate KPHO-TV, Phoenix reported. But in a counterclaim filed this past fall, Rosenberg claimed Redflex made him a "scapegoat" and that briberies were the norm, the Chicago Tribune reported.

And one allegation in Rosenberg's counterclaim drew the ire of New Jersey state Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Red Bank), who demanded an investigation.

"One of the executives that Redflex scapegoated over that has filed a counterclaim and given sworn testimony that it was a standard business practice of Redflex to provide untoward gifts and bribes to local officials in order to secure contracts," O'Scanlon said. "One of the states he specifically called out – where he himself had firsthand knowledge that officials have been bribed – is New Jersey. That's outrageous and it needs to be investigated."

The lawsuit also alleged that municipal officials were bribed in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington state, according to a Star-Ledger report.

In New Jersey, Redflex operates red-light cameras in Cherry Hill, Edison, Englewood Cliffs, Newark, New Brunswick, Springfield, and Stratford, the newspaper reported.

Speaking to WCBS 880, O'Scanlon also spoke against red-light cameras on principle.

"The cameras have a history of increasing accidents – certainly not decreasing accidents – and the camera companies have a history of lying about those facts," O'Scanlon said. "And municipal officials have a history of choosing to fall prey to the camera companies' misinformation campaigns so that they can feel better about stealing from their constituents."

He said red-light cameras were tantamount to theft.

"It's a disgusting system that exists just to steal money," O'Scanlon said. "It's government-sanctioned theft of motorists, and the beleaguered motorists of New Jersey don't deserve it."

In 2008, the New Jersey state Legislature authorized a five-year pilot program to determine whether the cameras reduced the frequency and severity of crashes at intersections with a history of motorists running red lights. Motorists have paid millions of dollars in fines because of the cameras; one small town in Gloucester County produced more than $1 million in paid violations from May 2011 through May 2012 from one intersection.

O'Scanlon has long been a critic of red-light cameras ion New Jersey. Last summer, he claimed the cameras were snapping and sending tickets to people who did not break the law.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued this past Friday, Redflex denied the allegations in Rosenberg's counterclaim, and said he was fired for violating company policies and procedures and the company's lawsuit against him will go on, KPHO reported.

"We are committed to transparency and honesty in our business practices. Our focus continues to be on providing best in class customer service and technology to our clients to make their communities safer," the company said in the statement.

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