Last Friday, federal prosecutors announced in a statement obtained by Ars Technica that former Redflex Traffic Systems CEO Karen Finley has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and wire and mail fraud charges related to an eight-year long pay-to-play scheme in which the red light camera manufacturer provided campaign contributions to local elected officials in exchange for municipal contracts.
According to The Chicago Tribune, no charges have been filed against any public officials for participating in the scheme. Prosecutors have not yet mentioned which officials might have been involved.
The prosecutors’ statement read, “From December 2005 to February 2013, Finley served as CEO of a red light camera enforcement company. As part of her plea agreement, Finley admitted that, between 2005 and 2013, she participated in a scheme in which the company made campaign contributions to elected public officials in the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati through a consultant retained by the company. According to admissions made in connection with her plea, Finley and others, including another executive of the company, agreed to provide the conduit campaign contributions with the understanding that the elected public officials would assist the company in obtaining or retaining municipal contracts, including a photo red light enforcement contract with the City of Columbus. Finley also admitted she and her co-conspirators concealed the true nature and source of the payments by the consultant’s submission and the company’s payment of false invoices for ‘consulting services,’ which funds the consultant then provided to the campaigns of the elected public officials.”
The Columbus Dispatch notes that Columbus City Council President Andrew Ginther, a frontrunner for November’s mayoral race, currently faces allegations that he solicited a $20,000 donation from Redflex in exchange for protecting the company’s municipal contracts. Ginther said in a statement, “I had absolutely no knowledge of these activities and did not take part in them… While I am not a subject of this inquiry, I have been asked to provide records that may help the investigation into Redflex. I’ve fully cooperated and will continue to assist in bringing these people to justice.”
Federal investigators have also probed the Ohio Democratic Party, which has been implicated in the scandal, for records. “A few days ago, the Ohio Democratic Party was asked to produce documents going back a number of years, and we are in the process of complying with that request,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson Kirstin Alvanitakis.
Ars Technica notes that Finley was also indicted in Chicago on similar charges back in August of 2014 related to a $2 million alleged bribery scandal that led to Redflex losing its Chicago red light camera contract. Though she previously pleaded not guilty in that case, Finley is now expected to reverse her plea in August of 2015.