Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Chicago-area mayor guilty in red light camera bribery scheme

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Anthony “Tony” Ragucci, the former mayor of Oakbrook Terrace, pleaded guilty May 23 to bribery charges related to a red-light camera scheme.

In exchange for cash payments to Ragucci’s office, he agreed to renew a contract with SafeSpeed LLC, which until recently operated red light cameras on the city’s busiest streets near the Oakbrook Mall. The Illinois Department of Transportation recently revoked the permits for those cameras, stating the city failed to provide required safety reports.

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Ragucci, 66, could spend up to five years in prison for kickbacks from a business associate and his stepsons. If he cooperates with the federal corruption probe, he could get a reduced sentence.

Ragucci was a longtime police officer before 2009, when he was elected mayor of the city of 2,750 in Chicago’s western suburbs. He’s the latest politician convicted in a corruption probe related to red light cameras.

SafeSpeed was the vendor on the cameras, but company leaders have denied wrongdoing and cut ties with a former investor implicated in bribery efforts. The cameras between 2008 and 2018 collected over $1 billion from drivers in the Chicago area without any measurable safety improvements, an Illinois Policy Institute investigation showed.

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The Oakbrook Terrace cameras started collecting fines in fiscal year 2018, and issued $9.3 million in tickets in just two years. The village is fighting the IDOT decision to shut them off.

The judge set Ragucci’s sentencing hearing for Aug. 15.

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