11/7/2014Italy: Speed Camera Corruption Leads To Jail Time
Italian court convicts public official and speed camera executive of fraud.
Italian prosecutors have been investigating hundreds of local police chiefs, mayors and the CEOs of photo enforcement companies over the course of nearly a decade. Although some charges have been dismissed, some remain pending, and a court has last week imposed a prison sentence for two individuals convicted of speed camera corruption.
Mauro Silvestri, the chief judge of the Tribunale di Cagliari, ordered Vincenzo Sergi, manager of the town of Las Plassas, to spend two years behind bars. Pierluigi Ferraro, an executive at the speed camera firm Sercom, will serve a one-year sentence.
The town's speed camera raised suspicion when it generated 18,000 tickets between April and September 2007. In addition to falsifying records, Ferraro and Sergi were convicted of rigging the bid so that Sercom could land the lucrative deal to run the program in return for a 37 percent cut of the fines.
A total of 136 motorists who received citations served as the plaintiffs in the drawn-out trial. Another hearing is scheduled February 27 for the mayor and other speed camera officials accused of participating in the scheme.
In February, a police commander in Spotorno was arrested in a speed camera bribery sting caught on hidden video in an operation dubbed "Hot Velox." 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.