5/17/2022Brothers Indicted In Widening Illinois Red Light Camera Corruption Probe
Federal prosecutors file felony charges against brothers who took a $14 cut of every red light camera ticket issued in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.
The US Department of Justice is not done prosecuting the individuals responsible for the red light camera scandal in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. On Wednesday, brothers James and Joseph Colucci will appear at the federal courthouse in Chicago on charges that they paid off Tony Ragucci, then mayor of Oakbrook Terrace, in return for his endorsement of Safespeed's automated ticketing contract.
Each time a motorist paid a photo ticket, the Colucci brothers pocketed a $14 cut distributed to their company, DSC Enterprises. This arrangement gave the pair an incentive to pay politicians to maximize the number of tickets issued. The scheme was outlined in Ragucci's indictment last month, but the brothers and their front company were not revealed in the document. The brothers inherited the deal from their stepfather, Dennis Colucci, who set it up before he died in 2018.
"It was part of the scheme that James Colucci and Joseph Colucci offered and gave things of value to Ragucci, including cash, in return for performing acts in his position as Oakbrook Terrace Mayor to benefit James Colucci, Joseph Colucci, [Safespeed], DSC Enterprises Inc, and [Dennis Colucci], including by signing one-year renewal agreements with [Safespeed]," the grand jury charged.
According to the indictment, Dennis Colucci initially intended to put one of Ragucci's relatives on the payroll of DSC Enterprises to better conceal the payoffs. Ragucci allegedly preferred to be paid the $3500 per month directly, with the amount designed to increase if he could generate more photo tickets.
The cameras began issuing tickets in August 2017, but federal officials had by then caught Safespeed co-founder Omar Maani and forced him to turn informant against the people he bribed to avoid prison time. Maani appears to have documented a $5000 bonus payment to Ragucci upon the 2018 renewal of the red light camera contract, and a $7500 bonus for the 2019 renewal.
The grand jury indictment charges the Colucci brothers with taking a $100,305 payment from Safespeed on September 14, 2018, a $117,068 payment on November 15, 2018, a $81,055 payment on November 15, 2018, and a $127,914 payment on July 15, 2019.
Earlier this month, Crestwood, Illinois, mayor Lou Presta was sentenced to a year in prison after he admitted taking bribes from Safespeed representatives. The court ordered Presta to pay $70,934 in restitution and cut a check for $5000 to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the costs incurred in bringing him to justice. Presta must surrender by June 27 for his twelve-month stay at the medium-security Federal Correctional Institution, Oxford in Adams County, Wisconsin.