5/19/2007Texas Senate Uncovers Speed Camera Conflict of Interest
Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee discovers camera vendor Nestor has been paying the full salary of a Marble Falls police officer.
Members of a Texas Senate committee are shocked that a full-time police officer is receiving monetary payments from photo enforcement company. Marble Falls Reserve Police Officer Steve Eckstein admitted Tuesday that he worked in uniform 40 hours a week for the city, but his entire salary comes from Nestor Traffic Systems. When asked specifically when his duties were to the police and when they were for Nestor, Eckstein responded, "At the same time."
Eckstein testified that the police chief had recruited him to take the payment from Nestor in December. Members of the Criminal Justice Committee suggested that it was a direct conflict of interest to use police buildings, uniform and equipment to generate profit for a private company.
"Steve Eckstein is in fact an employee of Nestor," Nestor representative Julia Rodriguez confirmed. "But he does not use the resources of the Marble Falls Police Department except to check in on a daily basis on his enforcement shift with the police department.... Yes, we're paying him a salary."
Committee Chairman John Whitmire (R-Houston) disagreed, warning Rodriguez, "I think you need to work with the previous witness who has some real liability that just might reach you."
Legal troubles could not come at a worse time for Nestor, a company saddled with $26 million in debt. Investors have fled, sending its stock price plunging to just 52 cents a share on Friday. Nasdaq has warned the company that it will be delisted if it does not comply with stock exchange rules by October.