Red light camera vendor investigated for corruption

February 13, 2013 5:09:07 PM PST
A red light camera vendor that services many Bay Area cities is being investigated in Chicago for corrupt business practices.

Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel dumped the city's longtime red light camera vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems.

News reports disclosed a deepening corruption scandal involving Redflex and a former city official.

A company-sponsored investigation found that two of its executives had given lavish gifts to the official and that it was covered up when reporters began raising questions.

Redflex also has lucrative contracts with many cities in the Bay Area and the rest of the state.

"What it indicates for me is just the entire history of the red light camera problem in California and elsewhere," said State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo).

He's been a vocal critic of red light cameras and has sponsored several bills to weed out abuses in the system.

"They created a deal where it was incentivized so that the more tickets they wrote, the more money they made," he said.

Hill says there's a lot of money to be made by the makers of red light cameras. "When there's a lot of money attached to it, you also start seeing some bad actors, and I think Redflex got caught."

Attorney Ellen Mendelson has represented many red light camera violators. "The red light cameras, I think they're $6,000 per intersection per month. So you've got a contract that's worth a fortune," she said.

Both Mendelson and Hill told ABC7 News that in light of the Chicago scandal, cities in the Bay Area ought to initiate audits and review contracts with Redflex and other traffic camera makers.

"Certainly I think cities and counties and towns ought to look into whether Redflex paid anybody any money or any consideration of any kind to get their cameras put up," Mendelson said.

Redflex's CEO said in a statement: "We learned that some Redflex employees did not meet our own code of conduct and the standards that the people of Chicago deserve. We are sharing information with law enforcement authorities and will take corrective action."

There have been serious ripple effects from the scandal. The chairman of the Redflex's Australia-based parent company resigned and the Australian stock market suspended trading on the company's shares.


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