A photo-enforcement camera in Phoenix.EXPAND
A photo-enforcement camera in Phoenix.
Ray Stern

Arizona-Based Redflex Photo Radar Firm to Pay $20 Million to Chicago for Bribery Scheme

Photo-enforcement firm Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. announced on Monday that it will pay $20 million to the city of Chicago to settle its high-profile bribery scandal.

The Glendale, Arizona-based firm released details of its settlement agreement on the same day that its former CEO, Karen Finley of Cave Creek, is scheduled to report to prison.

Finley was sentenced in November to 30 months in federal prison and pay $2 million in restitution for conspiracy to commit bribery in Illinois and Ohio.

She was supposed to report to the U.S. Marshal's Office in Phoenix on January 3, but that was since changed: Court records show she's expected to report today to the Victorville, California, medium-security facility.

Redflex Traffic Systems, the American division of Redflex of Australia, provides photo enforcement for dozens of cities in the United States.

Its Arizona clients include Phoenix, Paradise Valley, and El Mirage in Arizona.

The company's reputation took on heavy damage starting in 2012, when an investigation by the Chicago Tribune exposed the extensive bribery scheme.

Company officials, including Finley, coordinated payments to government insiders, who would then ensure Redflex secured its lucrative contracts.

Finley helped set up former Chicago transportation official John Bills with golf games in Arizona and use of a condominium in Gilbert, among other bribes.

Bills was sentenced to 10 years in prison in August.

Now, with its former CEO headed to prison, the settlement with Chicago, and a brand-new logo, Redflex is ready to move on.

"Today marks a new beginning for Redflex," Michael Finn, the company's president and CEO, said in a written statement. "Over the last four years, we took the actions every responsible company would have chosen and enhanced our compliance management, training and oversight functions."

Redflex emerged from its problems with a "single-minded focus" to keep up its public-safety mission and "we are well-positioned for this new day."

The settlement with Chicago resolves all outstanding civil and criminal matters both in Illinois and Ohio.

As long as the company adheres to a court-ordered agreement, the U.S. Department of Justice agrees not to prosecute or fine the company itself.

Redflex agreed to pay half the $20 million by the end of this year, and the other half in "various annual installments by the end of 2023," barring any extensions.

The company touted its own internal review of the bribery allegations, cooperation with government authorities, and acceptance of responsibility in the crimes.

Arizona-Based Redflex Photo Radar Firm to Pay $20 Million to Chicago for Bribery SchemeEXPAND
Redflex.com

Redflex claims that it "remains financially strong."

However, a December article on Newspaper.com — a site that follows photo-enforcement issues closely — states that the legal troubles continue to have financial fallout on Redflex

"Continued negative public sentiment means that the US photo enforcement market continues to be a low/no growth market," the site quotes from an Australian Securities Exchange notice.

The company, with a market value in December of $38 million, once feared a court award in the case of more than $300 million.

Michael Cavaiola, Redflex's spokesman in Arizona, told New Times that the new logo — a green infinity loop — was designed to "refresh the brand."

Although a former Redflex vice president once alleged that the company used bribery routinely in other states, no proof of bribery in Arizona ever surfaced.

Redflex also ran Arizona's controversial and unpopular freeway-camera program from 2008 to 2010.

In 2009, a man who was angry over the freeway program fatally shot a Redflex van operator in Phoenix. He claimed he didn't know the van was occupied, and received a 22-year prison term.

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