Speed Cam Contractor Redflex Accused Of Bribing Government Officials In 13 States

from the nothing-goes-faster-than-greased-wheels dept

Troubled and infamous traffic cam company Redflex is headed for even more trouble and infamy. In its relatively short history, Redflex has so far done the following:

  • received an innovation award from the state of Arizona even as the state considered dumping the contractor
  • pretty much admitted it ran cameras from 1997-2008 without proper FCC certification
  • spent the first six months of 2013 removing more cameras than it installed, for a loss of $3.5 million in revenue
  • had its camera systems in San Mateo and Santa Ana, CA declared to be in violation of California laws
  • had to refund several thousand fines in Australia after clocking a woman driving at over 100 mph in a vehicle that couldn’t reach those speeds
  • failed to deliver any data (not just “some” data — Redflex delivered nothing at all) on its cameras’ effectiveness to Denver city officials, thus violating its contract with the city

Given its history over the last half-decade or so, it should come as no surprise that Redflex’s ability to secure new contracts allegedly relies on illegal tactics.

A fired executive from a national red-light camera vendor claimed in an Arizona lawsuit that the company provided lavish gifts and bribes to government officials in 13 states to secure new contracts.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported Saturday that the bombshell allegations made a 13-page counterclaim by Aaron Rosenberg, former nationwide lead salesman for Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix, claimed that the firm “bestowed gifts and bribes on … officials in dozens of municipalities within, but not limited to the following states: California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia.”

Rosenberg claimed Redflex bribed local officials with meals, golf outings and tickets to professional football and baseball games, calling the expenses “entertainment” or “celebratory tokens.”

Rosenberg lost his job after Redflex was banned from competing for contracts in Chicago by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Apparently, even notoriously corrupt municipalities have their limits.

“Redflex was fired in Chicago for corruption. Nobody gets fired for corruption in Chicago,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), an outspoken critic of the cameras in New Jersey, who called for an investigation.

(Chicagoans should note that the contractor being considered for new speed cams, Xerox State and Local Solutions, is technically no better, albeit less tainted by outright corruption. Xerox’s cameras in Baltimore had a 10-26% error rate when audited, meaning the contractor issued up to 70,000 erroneous tickets in 2012 alone.)

Redflex has, of course, denied this and vows to “aggressively defend” itself against these claims. But this latest claim won’t do much to salvage its almost completely destroyed reputation. Redflex isn’t alone in its troubles. Contractors and camera systems are facing intense backlash across the nation, especially as evidence of faulty cameras, backroom deals and general incompetence continues to surface.

The accusations against Redflex can hardly be considered a surprise, considering the symbiotic relationship between contractors and city governments that tends to form when a new source of revenue is spotted. As long as the cameras issue tickets and the tickets continue to be paid, no one involved at the city level has much reason to examine the inner workings very closely. And if they’ve been plied by tickets to sporting events and rounds of golf, it makes it that much easier to drown out the complaints of constituents.

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Companies: redflex, xerox

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Comments on “Speed Cam Contractor Redflex Accused Of Bribing Government Officials In 13 States”

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18 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Speaking as a Maryland resident

I’m extremely offended that our state isn’t on that list. We demand our fair share of kickbacks, bribes, and fraud! I shall speak to the Mayor of Baltimore about this and insist that this dreadful slight is immediately remedied. After all, we’re already competitive with Detroit (murder rate) and Chicago (corruption) and Newark (drug gangs), we can’t allow ourselves to be outdone by any of those others.

We must do something! Immediately! Immediately! As in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN99jshaQbY

zip says:

I’m sorry if this off-topic drift might re-activate the “Tim Cushing hates cops” troll brigade, but I’ve got to wonder how many of these fraudulently-issued tickets – when unpaid – have resulted in the kind of middle-of-the-night no-knock police raids that sadly have become the standard police response for handling even the slightest offense?

For instance, the much-publicised recent arrest of famous ex-schoolteacher Mary Kay Letourneau (booked into jail at 4:44 a.m!) was because of an unpaid traffic ticket (which resulted in the state retaliating by revoking her ‘right to drive’ and so on) and because of the epidemic overuse of SWAT raids for minor offenses, this makes me wonder if police SWAT teams are now busting down doors to arrest traffic-ticket scofflaws?

If so, I have to wonder how many innocent people been shot and killed in SWAT raids –resulting from a bogus Redflex-issued tickets– because they didn’t “assume the position” fast enough?

Henry (profile) says:

If you drive in California...

Do you visit California or live there? If so, here is info about California’s red light camera tickets, which are bizarre-ly different from those in other states. (To start with, the fine is $500.)

A red light camera ticket from ANY city (or the MTA) in LA County can be ignored, as the LA courts have decided they will not report ignored camera tickets to the DMV. This was revealed in LA Times articles. Skeptical? Google: Red light camera no consequence.

Also, no matter where in California came from, check to see if it is a Snitch Ticket, the fake/phishing camera tickets California police send out to bluff car owners into ID’ing the actual driver. Snitch Tickets say, at the top, “Courtesy Notice-This is not a ticket,” and you can ignore them, too! Skeptical? Google: Snitch Ticket.

Avatar says:

They don’t use police resources to enforce red light camera tickets because, just about everywhere in the US, they are not actually enforceable.

One of the basic principles of the court system is that proceedings are not allowed without the subject of those proceedings knowing about them (because that person has a right to raise a defense, be represented by a lawyer, etc., but can’t exercise those rights if he’s convicted before he knows there’s anything even going on.) For a court case to proceed, the subject needs to be “served” – an official notice to appear in court has to be delivered to that person.

Mail does not suffice for service – the court needs to be able to verify that the documents were actually presented to the person.

You don’t need service for things like a traffic ticket because the police officer gives you the summons for the court date at the time of the ticketing and can testify to that effect. If you don’t show, the court can issue a warrant to arrest you. But the court can’t issue a warrant for an infraction without you having an interaction with an officer of the court (for this purpose, including any cop or anyone trying to serve you with court papers).

You can get around service requirements if you can demonstrate that the person is taking steps to avoid service – if they’ve fled the country, etc. But you have to demonstrate that, “we couldn’t be arsed” is not sufficient.

Technically there’s nothing stopping the city from having a cop come to your house and hand you a ticket for running a red-light camera. But that costs money – the city will probably spend more for the cop to hunt you down (especially if you’re not home the first time) than they’ll make from the ticket, which obviates the whole point of the exercise from the city’s perspective.

Nothing is stopping the city from screwing with you administratively the next time you need some paperwork from them, for that matter; they can say “hey, you have two thousand dollars of unpaid red light camera tickets, we refuse to issue you a building permit until you pay up.” But they can’t swear out a warrant for you for those tickets unless they actually tried to get you to come to court first, in person.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Why did they need to?

I’ve conjectured that red light cameras are more about surveillance than about revenues. (Though the revenues are useful to pay for the cameras and good in themselves.)

With the enthusiasm today about surveillance, it seems like offering to do red light cameras in a community would be kind of like a comic character charging the open door with his battering ram.

Given that: Why do you need bribes? Is your service so overpriced or sucky compared to other offerings that you have to bribe to win a bid?

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