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Italy: Speed Camera Scandal Means Prison For CEO, Top Cop
Italian speed camera CEO and police commander given six year prison sentences in bribery scandal.

Caterina Buffardeci
The United States is not alone when it comes to photo enforcement scandals. Long before federal officials began cracking down on Redflex Traffic Systems for bribing public officials, Italy's anti-crime units were raiding the offices of photo enforcement companies and covering speed cameras while the systems remained under investigation. Last week, those efforts paid off with the conviction of a key official in the town of Casorate Sempione and the owner of the speed camera firm Igea Srl.

Judge Maria Greca Zoncu of the court of Busto Arsizio sentenced Igea's Claudio Ghizzoni and police commander Caterina Buffardeci to six years in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros (US $15,840). The penalty would have been worse, but prosecutors were unable to find the exact amount of money that changed hands. Buffardeci concealed the details by speaking in code, earning her an acquittal in 2015 on forgery charges related to the speed camera program.

About 4000 fines were mailed to motorists under the dubious speed camera contract, but the amounts recipients were supposed to pay mysteriously doubled without any paperwork on file to justify the increase. The discrepancies triggered the investigation into fraud.

Ghizzoni was caught on video bribing officials in 2013 as part of a sting operation called "Hot Velox" -- named after the Italian word for speed camera: autovelox. Another figure in the scandal, Spotorno police commander Andrea Saroldi, has already been sentenced to two years and ten months behind bars for collecting kickbacks from Ghizzoni.

In 2012, the top cop in Pistoia was arrested for rigging the bid for a photo ticketing contract. In 2011, there were four raids that saw two police officers arrested on charges of soliciting bribes from people falsely accused of speeding. Seven were arrested in Frosinone for rigging speed camera contracts. The Guardia di Finanza announced five indictments in Brescia. A judge ruled that a group of 15 mayors, cops, speed camera company employees should stand trial on fraud charges. In August 2009, speed cameras were shrouded in black plastic as up to 200 officials faced charges in Caserta.

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