Metra Director Placed on Leave During Bonus Probe

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCChicago.com

    The Metra board Friday held an emergency meeting to select an independent investigator to take a look into reports that the agency's director last year gave himself an unauthorized bonus.

    Members decided on Itasca lawyer James Sotos to investigate the allegations against Executive Director Phil Pagano, according to the Chicago Tribune.

    “It’s a sad day for Metra,” board chairwoman Carole Doris told the paper.

    Pagano, who has run the agency for 20 years, is paid $269,625 to run the commuter rail service. But sources say he gave himself an extra $56,000 last year. Metra employees don't get bonuses, spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.

    The alleged bonus came as Metra was preparing to pass a 2010 budget that eventually included spending cuts, a staff pay freeze and some fare hikes.

    Pagano has been placed on leave while the investigation takes place. But officials say he wasn't officially suspended. 

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