12 INVESTIGATES: Auditor clears red light contracts

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It looks like cameras to catch red light runners could be back on track in Richmond, despite a cloud of suspicion and scandal. The company the city made a deal with, is wrapped up in a multi-million dollar bribery scandal in Chicago.

Two sets of cameras are already in place to snap your picture at one of Richmond's most dangerous intersections, Elkhardt and Hull Streets.

They haven't taken a photo yet. That's because the city put the brakes on the deal once it learned the same Redflex executive who negotiated Richmond's contract was fired by the company over a bribery scandal.

After numerous articles and allegations by the Chicago Tribune, Redflex launched an independent investigation and discovered Redflex employees funneled as much as $2 million in gifts and travel expenses to Chicago city officials.

City Auditor Umesh Dalal's office reviewed Richmond's contract. In a letter sent to city leaders he says he spoke with the FBI in the Chicago case and never learned of any bribery allegations here in Richmond.

But he does say it appears two companies bid to bring the red light cameras to the River city: Redflex and American Traffic Solutions.

The auditor's office claims American Traffic Solutions is actually a subsidiary of Redflex. He wrote that the company was essentially, "competing against itself to provide an appearance of a competitive" process.

Our search of online records show the companies both operate in Arizona. One is public and one is private. But numerous online articles claim the two companies are competitors.

We contacted Redflex, who denied the allegation and said American Traffic Solutions is a major competitor. Spokesperson Jody Ryan says they company was formed after several executives broke away from Redflex.

"I can assure you we are not connected to Redflex in any way shape or form," said Charles Territo for American Traffic Solutions. "Outside the fact that we are both in the road safety camera industry, the connection between ATS and Redflex is as distant as Richmond, VA is from Richmond, California."

Dalal stands by his office's findings and points to a document Redflex gave to the city during the bidding process. It shows that in 1999, "Redflex acquired American Traffic Systems, which is now re-incorporated as American Traffic Solutions."

Again- Redflex denies the allegation and says it's reached out to the auditor's office to correct quote "inaccuracies".

What still stands tonight is Richmond's signed contract with Redflex.

There's no timetable yet, but the company says it will approach the city to start operating its red light cameras at Elkhardt and Hull. Which means an eye in the sky could soon be watching you.

Click here to read the letter from the auditor: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wwbt/PDF/Redflex%20Auditor%20Response.pdf

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.