- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

A former chief executive for a Phoenix-based traffic camera company pleaded guilty Friday to bribing public officials to get and keep its contracts in two cities in Ohio.

Prosecutors say 55-year-old Karen Finley of Cave Creek, Arizona, the former chief executive officer of Redflex Traffic Systems, pleaded guilty in Cincinnati to conspiring to commit bribery. Her sentencing date hasn’t yet been scheduled.

Finley also is scheduled to change her plea on Aug. 11 in a separate criminal case in Illinois on allegations she funneled nearly $600,000 in cash and benefits to a retired Chicago official for his help in landing $124 million in city contracts. She had previously pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Another former Redflex executive said in a lawsuit filed in Arizona that the company gave bribes and gifts to government officials in dozens of municipalities in 13 states and that company leaders knew of the practice. The 13 states named by the former executive were California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia.

In the Ohio case, the amount of the bribes made to officials in Cincinnati and Columbus wasn’t clear. Finley’s plea agreement hasn’t been publicly released. The indictment didn’t name the public officials in question.

“Ms. Finley has been cooperating with the government from the beginning of the investigation and is relieved to have this step in the process behind her,” said Michael Kimerer, the attorney representing Finley in the Ohio case.

Messages seeking comment on the Finley’s plea were immediately returned by Redflex.

In a filing to regulators, Redflex said that it examined allegations that the company’s payments to a Redflex consultant in Chicago had been passed to city official who ran the city’s red-light camera program and that the company had paid for the city official’s vacation expenses.

The company’s first examination of the allegations concluded they were without merit, with the exception of a $910 hotel bill that was characterized as a billing error.

Then the company conducted another examination and found the allegations had merit, saying the arrangement between the Chicago official, consultant and Redflex will likely be considered a bribe by authorities. They also found Redflex officials paid for the vacation-related expenses for the city official for at least 17 trips from 2003 through 2010.

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