CHICAGO (WLS) --Every time one of those red-light cameras flashes, the city makes money.
And former executives of the company that grew Chicago's red light camera program into the largest in the nation have admitted they got the contract by paying bribes.
John Bills was the #2 man in the Chicago Department of Transportation. On Monday, U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon summed up the government's case against Bills.
"Hotels, golf trips, a condo in Arizona, an apartment on the South Side, a Mercedes... and it didn't cost him a dime. Ask yourself: Who really paid? The taxpayers of the City of Chicago," Fardon said.
The government alleges camera vendor Redflex paid $2,080,240 to a man Bills met in Alcoholics Anonymous, who then funneled part of the money back to Bills.
Bills' attorneys told jurors their client didn't have the power to steer contracts.
"A guy like John Bills cannot sell a $100 million contract to anybody. He doesn't have the power, influence or control. We all know the political machine in Chicago. John Bills is not the guy you go to," said Bills' attorney Nishay Sanan. "John Bills is a scapegoat."
But in email after email from 2003 through 2011, Bills describes to Redflex bosses the Herculean efforts he's undertaking to help them get, keep and grow their contract.
Late Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought to distance himself from the scandal that largely occurred under Mayor Richard M. Daley's watch.
"The corruption is about how the firm got the contract, and we've made changes in the firm and in the operations of that contract. We sent them out the door," Emanuel said.