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Argentina: Court Sentences Mayor For Forging Speed Camera Tickets
Small city mayor in Cordoba, Argentina, convicted by jury of forging speed camera tickets.

Confiscated speed camera
By Richard Diamond

Prosecutors in in Cordoba, Argentina, last week announced a jury had convicted a city mayor and two speed camera executives for setting up a "collections machine" using an unlawfully installed speed camera. Carlos Hector Borgobello, the sitting four-term mayor of Estacion General Paz, was found guilty of falsifying documents and extortion in collusion with the photo enforcement firm Sertran SA. The Second Chamber of Crime voided every one of the nearly 150,000 automated citations issued on Route 9 between 2008 and 2010 in the small city with 2500 residents.

The convictions were the culmination of an anti-corruption investigative effort spanning eleven years. Prosecutor Carlos Matheu became suspicious after complaints about tickets from the town began accumulating in 2008. In 2010, Metheu raided city offices, confiscating documents and the speed cameras themselves as evidence.

Since 2007, the province had formally banned the use of speed cameras, but that failed to deter Borgobello and the speed camera company. Sertran SA set up the fully automated cameras to take photographs of passing traffic and generate dates and times for alleged offenses. A local police officer would then forge actual citations using the information as if he had been personally present. Borgobello had several additional accomplices in the scheme, including Judge Daniel Hernan Torres who died before charges were brought.

Borgobello was sentenced to three years of conditional prison and is barred from holding public office for four years. He must also perform sixteen hours of public service a month. Alejandro Jose Abeliansky from the speed camera company Sertran received a conditional prison sentence of two years, eight months and is barred from holding any public contracts for three years. He must perform twelve hours of public service a month. The same sentence was also imposed on Virginia Monica Guala from Extrategic Group SA, which worked closely with the speed camera company.

Several mayors have been implicated in speed cameras and red light camera corruption around the world. In 2014, the chief of staff for the mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, was charged by the city's inspector general with "inappropriate activity" favoring the speed camera vendor. In 2007, the Tarrant County, Texas, district attorney investigated open meeting law violations by the mayor of Mansfield in setting up a red light camera contract. The mayor of St. Peters, Missouri, was imprisoned after he was caught on tape taking bribes in return for signing a red light camera ordinance. In the Czech Republic, the mayor of Varnsdorf was charged with corruption in 2019 over a photo ticketing contract. Prosecutors in Italy have been extremely active in securing bribery convictions against public officials, specifically levying charges against more than fifteen mayors. View a full list of the criminal indictments and convictions related to photo enforcement.

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