9/2/2020Red Light Camera Company Co-Owner Charged In Bribery Scheme
Omar Maani, co-founder of Safespeed, indicted on federal charges as part of a red light camera bribery scheme.
Federal prosecutors have formally charged another photo enforcement executive with bribery. Omar Maani, co-founder and co-owner of the photo ticketing firm Safespeed must appear before US District Court Judge John Robert Blakey on Friday to answer the accusation.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) secretly recorded Safespeed representatives offering cash to suburban Chicago, Illinois, officials in return for their support for installing highly profitable red light camera systems. A judge last month ordered the recordings of Crestwood mayor Lou Presta taking bribes sealed because of the possibility disclosures that might harm innocent third parties.
Maani is thought to have been wearing a wire to help trap Patrick J. Doherty, who was a Safespeed salesman by night and the chief of staff to Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski during the day. Tobolski on Tuesday admitted that he took $250,000 in bribes and cheated on his taxes. The information so far released by the US attorney's office does not link Tobolski to the Safespeed scandal, aside from his chief of staff conspiring with Maani to bribe Oak Lawn village trustees into signing a red light camera deal with Safespeed on February 25, 2014.
Maani, Doherty and someone only identified as "Individual B" funneled the Oak Lawn bribe through a close relative of the village official. Doherty was recorded telling Maani that the money was being paid to the relative "just on the chance of, uh, that we can get the other ones in Oak Lawn and get [unnamed Oak Lawn trustee] on our side."
Tobolski is also cooperating with federal investigators in the red light camera probe that has so far secured an admission from Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Martin A. Sandoval, that he did in fact take bribes from a Safespeed representative in return for his work to kill anti-photo enforcement legislation. The legislative champion of speed cameras, state Senator Terrance P. Link (D-Vernon Hills), was charged with tax fraud.
More than a dozen public officials, lobbyists and executives have been convicted in photo enforcement corruption schemes besides the one unfolding in Illinois (view full list). Similar scandals have been uncovered around the globe (view the red light camera and speed camera CrimeLine).