John Bills, a former top official in Chicago's Department of Transportation, was convicted on each of the 20 counts he faced for receiving bribes to help Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc. obtain a $100 million red-light camera contract with the city. The charges included extortion, bribery, wire and mail fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy.
Bills, 54, reportedly received some $2 million in bribes, including two condos, meals, hotel stays, envelopes of cash totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, golf trips, a Mercedes, and other gifts in exchange for steering the lucrative contract to the Phoenix-based company. Bills was paid a commission by Redflex every time a red-light camera was installed, according to former officials with the company who have also been indicted or convicted for their involvement in the 10-year scheme.
Bills' lawyers, who say they will "continue to fight for his innocence," allege that the money was given to lobbyists who funneled the money up to powerful politicians including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Ed Burke (14th) and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
"That is baloney, that is crazy," U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said in court Monday in response to the allegations. "The idea that lobbyists were paid to funnel money to people like Mike Madigan and Ed Burke and Rahm Emanuel is pretty grandiose, but there is not one single shred of evidence that supports any of it."
After the Chicago Tribune unearthed the scheme, Emanuel cancelled the city's contract with Redflex in 2013. Bills, who retired from his post as the city's managing deputy commissioner of transportation in 2011, was indicted a year after the contract was pulled.
Bills is set to be sentenced on May 5.