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Former Red-Light Camera Chief Charged In Bribery Scandal

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 14, 2014 9:30PM

Image via NBC Chicago screen grab.

The former head of Chicago’s red-light camera program was finally charged in a bribery scheme involving the company that formerly held the contract for the network of cameras. John Bills, 52, was accused in a federal complaint Wednesday of accepting money, vacations, use of a condominium in Arizona and other gifts to steer red light camera business to Redflex Traffic Solutions.

A 2012 Tribune investigation into the program revealed the relationship between Bills and Redflex after the company paid for a hotel room for Bills that wasn’t disclosed on city records. Redflex earned $124 million managing the camera network from 2003 until last year, including $24 million in the final year of the deal. The investigation triggered a scandal where Redflex’s Australian parent company ultimately conducted its own internal probe revealing the full depth of the situation. Six Redflex officials left the company in the wake of the scandal. The internal investigation, spearheaded by former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, revealed 17-company-paid trips for Bills.

Bills is believed to have received the bribes through a longtime friend and consultant identified by the Tribune as Michael O’Malley, who has long denied any involvement in the scandal.