After being found guilty of bribing politicians to implement her due process-removing products, Karen Finley, former CEO of the red light company Redflex, was sentenced last week to 14 months in prison. In addition to the charges that she was sentenced for, Finley is also awaiting sentencing on similar charges in a different state, which could potentially compound her jail time.
The prosecutors laid out the case against Finley in the following court statement:
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.
This case has shed doubt on the process by which red light cameras are installed in cities across the US.
Even US District Judge Michael H. Watson, the judge presiding over the case, admitted that the whole process could be a “sham.”
“This sort of crime goes to the very integrity of government. It certainly calls into question whether the competitive bidding process is real or a sham. At least with respect to your situation and Redflex’s situation, it would appear this playing field was less than level. Indeed, one could fairly question whether this is the basis for the letting of other contracts in local government,” Watson said in court this week.
Finley expressed remorse for her actions, saying that she was “ashamed and angry at myself for behaving in a manner that was inconsistent with the way I have lived my entire life.”
She also went on to blame her behavior on the company that she worked for.
“Redflex was a toxic and soul-sucking place to work. I worked over ten hours a day, almost every weekend and never saw my family,” she said — completely ignoring the fact that her job as the CEO was probably the largest contributing factor to the ‘soul-sucking place.’
However, the problem goes much deeper than Redflex, this is an industry wide problem.
“I find it very revealing that Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest manufacturers of red light cameras in the U.S., has included clauses in their contracts that prohibit city engineers from applying engineering practices that improve compliance and reduce accidents, apparently to maintain the flow of ticket camera revenue. Lockheed Martin specifically prohibits cities, such as San Diego, California, from changing the timing of yellow lights in intersections that host their cameras, even though increasing the yellow light time has proven to dramatically decrease red light violations,” he said.
“In Fairfax County, Virginia there has been a 96% decrease in red light violations at the intersection of US50 and Fair Ridge Drive, but only after the yellow light time was increased by 1.5 seconds. And, Lockheed Martin has asked Mesa, Arizona for approval to remove cameras from intersections that no longer generate meaningful revenue. The cause is an increase in the duration of the yellow light time at the intersections. In the typical Lockheed Martin contract, the company doesn’t get paid unless a ticket is issued. At the very least, there is a definite conflict of interest due to the fact that if the intersection has no violators, Lockheed Martin has no profit,” he added.
Finley has already pled guilty to charges against her in other states, but when she receives those sentences, they will run concurrent to the terms that she received this week.
Red light cameras have become increasingly unpopular with a general population that is constantly being fleeced by revenue generation schemes.
Last year, 42-year-old Stephen Ruth was arrested for disabling traffic cameras, and even making YouTube videos of himself in the act, showing other people how they too can disable traffic cameras fairly easily. As soon as the video went viral, Ruth quickly became known as the “Red Light Robin Hood” and was soon arrested by police.
Recently, he has returned to the act and was arrested as a result of his protest. In an exclusive interview with The Free Thought Project, Ruth admitted, “I specifically cut the Cablevision wires and left the rest of the wires alone.”
Convinced that his local legislators had shortened the yellow lights at traffic cameras in order to generate more revenue, Ruth was ignored when requesting footage of fatal accidents and the number of deaths occurring at red light cameras. While awaiting trial, Ruth tells The Free Thought Project how he has recently endured intimidation tactics by local officials and unknown parties.