2/27/2014Italy: Top Cop Arrested For Speed Camera Bribery
Hidden cameras catch police commander in Spotorno, Italy for taking bribes from a speed camera company.
Prosecutors on Tuesday charged Andrea Saroldi, the police commander in the small seaside town of Spotorno, Italy, with extortion, bribery and fraud related to speed camera contracts. At a press conference Wednesday, Savona assistant prosecutor Daniela Pischetola announced the results of an investigation dubbed "Hot Velox" (autovelox is the Italian word for speed camera).
According to Pischetola, Saroldi collected kickbacks from photo ticketing contractor, Igea srl in return for his permission to install the cameras. Igea's Claudio Ghizzoni has also been charged. According to the indictment, Saroldi also used threats of violence to extort money from Arcadia, a company that maintains road signs in the town. The owner of the sign company tipped off prosecutors last July after paying Saroldi 24,000 euros (US $33,000).
The Italian National Police (Polizia di Stato) set up a sting operation and captured on video money changing hands in Saroldi's car. Saroldi would then take his squad car and spend his red light camera money in the red light district. He also used the funds to pay off gambling debts. Saroldi is currently under house arrest.
Italian prosecutors have not hesitated to charge police chiefs and municipal officials with speed camera fraud. In 2012, the top cop in Pistoia was arrested for rigging the bid for a photo ticketing contract. In 2011, there were four raids that saw two police officers arrested on charges of soliciting bribes from people falsely accused of speeding. Seven were arrested in Frosinone for rigging speed camera contracts. The Guardia di Finanza announced five indictments in Brescia. A judge ruled that a group of 15 mayors, cops, speed camera company employees should stand trial on fraud charges. In August 2009, speed cameras were shrouded in black plastic as up to 200 officials faced charges in Caserta.
The problems are not limited to Italy, as the mayor of St. Peters, Missouri spent a year in prison for soliciting a bribe from Redflex, the Australian red light camera company. According to former Redflex Executive Vice President Aaron Rosenberg, such conduct was expected at Redflex, which used "lavish gifts and bribes" to convince government officials to buy more speed cameras. Rosenberg is cooperating in a federal investigation into the corruption charges that first came to light in Chicago, Illinois.