Martin O’Malley — a key player in Chicago’s red light camera contract scandal involving Redflex Traffic Systems — pleaded guilty Wednesday to funneling bribes to a city worker.
O’Malley, 73, of Worth, was employed as a “consultant” for Redflex when its deal to provide red light cameras to the city began in 2003. But his main role was allegedly to funnel cash and perks to his pal, city worker John Bills, who is accused of helping rig the contract for Redflex in return for kickbacks.
O’Malley faces up to five years in prison but has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors against Bills and former Redflex CEO Karen Finlay in the hopes of receiving a reduced sentence. His sentencing has been delayed until after Bills’ and Finlay’s cases are concluded.
In court Wednesday, O’Malley admitted he funneled most of the $2 million he was paid by Redflex to Bills, who the feds say got a $177,000 condo, Super Bowl tickets, golf outings, a boat, his children’s school fees and even his girlfriend’s mortgage and his divorce attorney’s bill paid by Redflex.
O’Malley agreed that Bills had got him the job with Redflex, then demanded the kickbacks, telling him “this is the way business is done.”
He made the handoffs in cash at Chicago restaurants but also paid debts Bills owed to third parties and bought him the Arizona condo, he said.
Asked how he felt before he pleaded guilty by U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall, O’Malley, who is fitted with a pacemaker and said he takes 16 types of medication every day, sighed and responded, “As good as can be…”
Bills, 52, and Finlay, 54, both deny playing roles in the scam to steer $124 million in red light camera contracts to Redflex.
The firm’s contract was canceled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year, after allegations about the bribery scheme were first published by the Chicago Tribune.