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updated: 2/6/2017 1:36 PM

Red-light camera company to pay $20M to settle Chicago suit

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CHICAGO -- A red-light camera company whose former chief executive pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge will pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit with Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday.

The deal ends a lawsuit the city filed against Phoenix-based Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. and its Australian parent company Redflex Holdings Ltd, accusing Redflex of fraud and making false statements when it contracted in 2003 to run Chicago's red-light camera enforcement program.

The system, much-vilified by drivers, automatically ticketed motorists. Chicago canceled Redflex's contract in 2013 following Chicago Tribune reports about the scheme.

Former Redflex CEO Karen Finley and former Chicago transportation official John Bills were convicted in a $100 million kickback scheme. Finley was given a 2 ½-year prison term and Bills received a 10-year sentence.

Bills was the former second-in-command at Chicago's Department of Transportation. He was accused of accepting envelopes stuffed with cash, along with gifts - including condominiums in two states and a Mercedes - to help Redflex obtain contracts in a decadelong scheme. Prosecutors said the cash and gifts were worth a total of up to $2 million.

"I hope that this serves as a warning to other companies that do business or hope to business with the city that we will hold those who try to take advantage of taxpayers accountable," Emanuel said in a statement.

The settlement money is to be paid installments over the next six years, city officials said. In January, the company made a deal with federal prosecutors ensuring that others at Redflex won't be prosecuted if it continues to cooperate.

"Today marks a new beginning for Redflex," Redflex Traffic Systems President and CEO Michael Finn said in a statement Monday, noting that the company has enhanced compliance management, training and oversight.

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