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Chicago official alleged to have taken bribes in red light camera program

 The camera will take a picture of the car and license plate and the offender will be mailed a citation.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Retired City of Chicago official, John Bills, 52, was charged with one count of federal program bribery in a criminal complaint that was filed yesterday and unsealed today. For nearly a decade John Bills managed the city's red light camera program with what looks like a share of personal gains, he was arrested today for allegedly accepting cash and personal benefits totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars to steer $124 million in city contracts to Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. to establish, operate, and expand the program. Bills was scheduled to appear at 3 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez in federal court.

According to an FBI affidavits, Bills allegedly received between 2003 and 2011 cash bribes, an Arizona condominium, and other forms of payments, that were funneled from Redflex through unnamed Individual A, who was Bills’ one-time friend who received $2 million in salary, bonuses, and commissions as a consultant to Redflex. It is also alleged that he received from Individual A cash and checks directly and indirectly for his benefit, including to repay loans, for his retirement party, and catering for another party. This Individual is alleged to have purchased a Glendale, Arizona condominium for $177,000, for Bills who often with friends and family, visited 22 times between May 2008 and 2012.

Redflex, a subsidiary of Australian-based Redflex Holdings Ltd., in return received city contracts for a total of 384 city red light cameras between 2003 and 2011 and millions of dollars for installation, maintenance and operation of the city’s first Digital Automated Red Light Enforcement Program (DARLEP). By 2010, Chicago had the largest red light camera program in the United States.

Bills, retired in 2011 as managing deputy commissioner of the city’s transportation department after 32 years with the city, managed the city’s red light program and served as a member of the city’s contract evaluation committee. Before Bills retired, he allegedly made it known he wanted a job with Redflex, who decided they could not hire him directly so they set him up with Company B which was funded by Redflex. The job lasted to early spring of 2012.

If found guilty John Bills could face for federal program bribery a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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