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Chicago official jailed for Redflex bribes

AAP logoAAP 29/08/2016 By Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent

A corrupt Chicago official who pocketed up to $US2 million ($A2.6 million) in bribes from Australian red light camera company Redflex has been sentenced to 10 years' jail.

The punishment delivered to John Bills in the US District Court in Chicago on Monday is the latest black eye for Melbourne-headquartered, ASX-listed Redflex.

More dark days appear set to rock the company with Redflex's former chief executive of North American operations Karen Finley, who became a prosecution witness in the Bills case, to be sentenced in Chicago in November.

Bills' bag man Martin O'Malley, hired by Redflex, will be sentenced next month.

The scandal has also crossed the Pacific, with Redflex announcing to the ASX earlier this year the Australian Federal Police had commenced an investigation into the "conduct of Australian former employees" relating to the company's Chicago contracts.

In a separate case involving Redflex in Columbus, Ohio, lobbyist John Raphael was sentenced to 15-months jail in June after pleading guilty to extorting campaign contributions for city officials from Redflex.

Bills, 55, the former second-in-command of Chicago's Department of Transportation, was found guilty in January of 20 counts including bribery, extortion and wire fraud charges.

He said in an emotional address to the court at Monday's sentencing he had a "broken moral compass".

"I was a mid-level manager who was directed by my superiors and given a responsibility that I obviously wasn't prepared for," Bills said, the Chicago-Tribune reported.

Bills received up to $US2 million in cash and gifts from Redflex and in return helped create a $US600 million red light camera program in Chicago.

It was the largest in the US.

Bills' trial heard how he steered city contracts to Redflex by orchestrating votes and guiding company officials on what to say in meetings with other city officials.

Bills pocketed $US560,000 in cash and was showered with gifts including hotel stays, dinners and vacations.

When he retired in 2011 Bills was hired by a Redflex consultant.

One senior Redflex figure who did not appear at Bills' trial was well-known Australian executive and former Redflex North American chief executive Bruce Higgins.

Bills' lawyer Nishay Sanan had asked Judge Virginia Kendall to toss Bills' conviction because of Higgins' absence.

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