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Red-light camera operator accused of giving bribes

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Red-light camera

A red-light camera is shown on Coors Bypass at Ellison Drive. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

A company that operates red-light and speed cameras “bestowed gifts and bribes” on people in cities throughout New Mexico and a dozen other states, according to allegations in an Arizona lawsuit.

Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. has worked for Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho and Las Cruces over the years.

The company denies the allegations, and government executives in New Mexico say they aren’t aware of any impropriety.

Nevertheless, the allegations could lead to an internal investigation in Albuquerque.

City Councilor Dan Lewis on Friday asked the city’s inspector general and auditors to examine the procurement process that led to Redflex’s first contract, in 2005. He said he had no reason to disbelieve the company’s denials but that a “thorough and detailed investigation” is warranted.

Redflex no longer works in Albuquerque. In 2011, city residents voted against continuing to operate the camera system.

The bribery allegations surfaced in the Chicago Tribune this week, when the newspaper reported on litigation between the company and Aaron Rosenberg, an executive it fired last year. Each side is suing the other.

The Arizona-based Redflex accuses Rosenberg of unethical conduct that harmed the company’s reputation. The company said he had a “secret scheme” and gave inappropriate gifts to Redflex customers.

Rosenberg says the allegations are false and defamatory. The company knew and approved of what he did, the lawsuit said.

Furthermore, he says Redflex provided “lavish gifts and bribes” to government officials. His lawsuit cites meals, golf, professional baseball and football games, and gifts that were budgeted as “entertainment.” The suit offers no details about gifts in New Mexico, but the state is included in a list of places where they supposedly were given.

Redflex “bestowed gifts and bribes on company officials in dozens of municipalities within, but not limited to” 13 states, including New Mexico and neighboring Arizona, Texas and Colorado.

Rosenberg’s counterclaim also says he has “provided information” to state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The company issued a statement Friday denying the allegations. Redflex spokeswoman Jody Ryan said Rosenberg was fired for violating company policies.

“Redflex will aggressively defend itself against the allegations as well as prosecute its claims against the former executive,” Ryan said. “We are committed to transparency and honesty in our business practices. Our focus continues to be on providing best in class customer service and technology to our clients to make their communities safer.”

Breanna Anderson, a spokeswoman for Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, said the city wasn’t “aware of any issues locally.”

Martin Chávez, who served three terms as mayor, the last of which ended in 2009, said Friday he had no concerns about the company’s conduct here.

The red-light camera program began during his tenure.

In a letter to City Hall’s auditors, Lewis said he didn’t know of any misconduct in Albuquerque but that an investigation should be done to “see whether there were any irregularities.”

Officials in Rio Rancho, Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Albuquerque say they haven’t been contacted by law enforcement.

They said the first they’d heard about the allegations was in media reports.

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