6/12/2006Canada: Details Emerge in ACS Bribery Case
New details from the Edmonton, Canada photo radar bribery case show officers accepted free trips and services from camera vendor ACS.
Court documents obtained by the Edmonton Journal reveal new details about the bribery scandal involving attempts by Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) to land a $90-million twenty-year no-bid contract to operate photo radar and red light cameras for the city of Edmonton, Canada. The new information suggests ACS offered more than just technical services to members of the Edmonton Police Service.
The nineteen-month Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation found evidence that a blonde female ACS employee drove Sergeant Tom Bell, 47, to Oilers hockey games in a Mercedes-Benz on "one or possibly two" occasions. One officer testified that the woman told him Bell was his "client."
Bell and Staff Sergeant Kerry Nisbet, 49, were regulars at the hockey games and sat in prime seats just behind the Oilers' bench. Police ethics rules forbid accepting such items -- which had a face value of CAD$147.50 each -- from a company seeking to do business with the police force. A police sergeant told investigators that he saw Bell flash his badge to get the best parking spot at the games. Seized videotapes also confirm Nisbet and Bell's presence at the games.
In April 2003, Bell and Nisbet traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for a "Digital Enforcement Training" seminar. ACS paid to fly Nisbet's sons out to join him for an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game at the company's expense. Customs officials and a photograph on Nisbet's seized hard drive confirm their attendance at the game. On another occasion, ACS paid for a trip to Toronto for Bell and a second trip to Phoenix for Nisbet.
On March 1, 2004, Sergeant Bell issued a memo claiming only ACS could provide the appropriate automated enforcement services for the city and recommended the twenty-year contract be approved without discussion. Investigators charged Bell and Nisbet with making false and misleading statements in return for the favors they received. Their trial is ongoing.
Documents also show that former Deputy Police Chief Darryl da Costa, a key supporter of photo radar, violated ethics rules by accepting free Oilers tickets. On September 17, da Costa issued a statement saying he was not under investigation for his actions. On September 20, da Costa was interviewed as a suspect. Da Costa did not correct his earlier statement.
Nisbet said he thought it ethical to accept the free tickets because he saw Deputy Chief da Costa accept them.