11/14/2007Canada: Judge Drops Bribery Charges Against Camera Company
Affiliated Computer Services is let off the hook in the Edmonton, Canada photo ticketing bribery trial.
An Alberta, Canada provincial court judge yesterday dropped bribery charges against Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) in relation to its efforts to land a lucrative photo enforcement contract in Edmonton. Judge Michael G. Allen determined the evidence insufficient to proceed with trial. ACS had been accused of offering Edmonton Police Service officers comfortable jobs after they left the force, ten expensive hockey tickets -- sometimes including a female escort to the game -- and free travel for officers and certain family members to resort locations including Las Vegas and Arizona.
Although most of the case details have remained secret under a court-imposed gag order, the bribery charges centered on the fact that two of the officers who accepted these benefits later recommended ACS for a $90 million no-bid contract, even though several other companies, including Australia's Redflex, offer similar services. ACS had told Bell that a high-paying job would be waiting for him with the company after he left the police force. ACS has used this tactic with other cities in the past to ensure a receptive audience for its products among police officials and decisionmakers.
The prosecution dropped the promise of employment charge, which allowed Judge Allen to find no clear quid pro quo and rule that a jury should not be called to decide the question. Allen did not, however, excuse the company's conduct, nor that of Detective Thomas Bell, 49, and Staff Sergeant Kerry Nisbet, 51.
"Certainly, the evidence revealed a certain lack of concern for the police members involved for the appearance of propriety in dealing with ACS," Judge Allen wrote.
ACS responded to the court's action by affirming that its employees had never done anything wrong or unethical.
"ACS is a company that prides itself on our high ethical standards," ACS President and CEO Lynn Blodgett said in a statement. "We would not tolerate the type of conduct alleged against our employees in these proceedings and we were confident from the time we first received the summons in this matter that our subsidiary had acted in an ethical and legal manner."
Blodgett assumed the role of CEO less than one year ago after then CEO Mark A. King, stepped down in a stock fraud scandal, admitting that he and the company's number two official at the time "violated the company's code of ethics for senior financial officers."
Bell will stand trial in relation to the "fraudulent" memorandum he wrote to city officials recommending ACS for the ticketing contract. Arraignment is set for November 23.