8/19/2016Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Redflex Bribe Case
US district judge denies motion to set aside jury verdict in Redflex corruption trial.
US District Judge Virginia M. Kendall did not buy the arguments of the man who took $2,032,959 in red light camera bribes from Redflex Traffic Systems. In a ruling Tuesday, Judge Kendall denied the motion of former Chicago, Illinois transportation official John Bills to set aside the jury verdict that found him guilty of corruption.
Bills had argued that his conviction was based exclusively on the testimony of three admitted liars: former Redflex US chief Karen Finley, Redflex Executive Vice President Aaron Rosenberg and Redflex bagman Martin O'Malley. Judge Kendall found this an inaccurate summary of what happened during the trial. She cited the testimony of three other individuals Bills used to funnel Redflex cash as evidence of the conspiracy. This included a man handed a $2400 check from Bills that was drawn against O'Malley's checking account.
"All of this evidence, corroborated and supported O'Malley's testimony that he passed along commissions and bonuses that he received from Redflex to Bills, allowing Bills to spend thousands of dollars on meals, vacations, and even another home among other purchases," Judge Kendall wrote. "The three principal witnesses' testimony was therefore corroborated and the circumstantial evidence supported Bills's involvement in the conspiracy and the substantiated the benefits that he derived from that conspiracy."
Aside from the personal testimony, federal prosecutors also presented banking records and other receipts demonstrating the flow of cash from Redflex coffers to Bills.
"Among the most damning evidence of the existence of a conspiracy was the fact that Redflex hired O'Malley, at the direction of Bills, to be its customer service representative despite the fact that O'Malley was not qualified for that position in the least," Judge Kendall wrote. "The hiring decision, according to Finley's testimony, came directly from Bruce Higgins, Redflex's CEO, who told her that O'Malley was Bills's candidate and therefore would be hired."
Sentencing for Bills, O'Malley and Finley may not be complete until November. Scheduled dates have been postponed as federal investigations into Redflex continue. Judge Kendall even gave permission to Karen Finley to enjoy a vacation in Maui, Hawaii with her husband from September 24 through October 4.
Federal prosecutors went easy on Finley and O'Malley after they turned state's evidence, but Bills refused to admit his guilt. Prosecutors hit him hard for that decision on Monday, reciting how Bills worked on behalf of Redflex to keep red light camera competitor ACS from landing the lucrative Chicago contract when it was up for consideration by a city transportation department review committee.
"Bills wrote out the names of the members of the committee on placards and placed them around the table in the room, arranging the seating in a way to control the voting order and putting committee members who he (Bills) knew would vote for Redflex first so that their vote would influence other members," US Attorney Zachary T. Fardon wrote. "In this way, among other ways, Bills stacked the deck against the competition and in favor of Redflex."
Fardon argued that Bills was so central to the corruption that he should be sentenced to no less than ten years in prison.
"He planned and organized the offense from the very beginning, as demonstrated by how Bills pushed the Chicago contract to Redflex in the winter and spring of 2003 while, at the same time, directing O'Malley to seek and obtain a job with the same company," Fardon wrote to Judge Kendall. "John Bills exploited the public trust to line his own pockets. He did so repeatedly and proactively over the course of about a decade. Since being caught, he has shown no remorse or contrition. He is thus deserving of a significant term of imprisonment."
A copy of the ruling is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.