9/25/2018Ex-Wife Of Red Light Camera Convict Wins Payday
Federal judge sides with claim of ex-wife to pension fund contributions from Chicago, Illinois official who took Redflex bribes.
Margaret Bills, ex-wife of a former Chicago, Illinois, transportation official caught in a red light camera bribery scandal, won $95,946 from a federal court ruling on Thursday. US District Judge Virginia M. Kendall decided that Margaret Bills, not the government, had first claim to the $266,519 in pension contributions that John Bills accumulated while serving as the city's deputy transportation chief.
Bills owes the government $2 million in restitution following his conviction for taking $2 million in cash and benefits from Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia, which secured the official's assistance in securing the most lucrative automated ticketing contract in the country.
As part of their 2012 divorce settlement, Margaret Bills was entitled to 36 percent of the pension payments of John Bills, which meant she received a monthly check for $3069. Federal prosecutors insisted that the federal government was not bound by the state court's ruling on the divorce settlement and that Margaret Bills should get nothing. The federal court disagreed.
"The 2012 [divorce settlement] provided Margaret Bills ownership interest in the portion of the pension benefits distributed to her," Judge Kendall ruled. "In January 2018, Margaret Bills sought and obtained a supplemental order clarifying the benefits allocated pursuant to the [settlement].... The government's argument fails."
Judge Kendall noted that the feds are indeed bound by the state court's ruling under the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause. It does not matter that the federal prosecutors were not invited to participate in the state proceedings.
"The court gives the [state court] order its proper regard and finds no reason for reaching a different conclusion," Judge Kendall explained. "Margaret Bills' motion did not seek to rewrite or change the contract; it merely sought for clarification consistent with the intent of the parties... Accordingly, Margaret Bills' interest in the refund as a judgment lien creditor, acquired in 2012, defeats the government's criminal judgment lien perfected in 2016."
The court ordered the Chicago pension fund to write the court a check for $170,572. John Bills is scheduled for release from a Pensacola, Florida federal prison on August 12, 2024. A copy of the decision is available in a PDF file at the source link below.