He must have had something to hide . . .
Embattled Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano, under investigation by his own agency for financial issues, threw himself in front of a Metra train this morning and was killed, sources said.
It happened in an unincorporated area near Crystal Lake just after 8 a.m.
“It’s very sad day for Metra,” Metra board member Jack Schaffer said after emerging from a canceled meeting this morning that was to deal with Pagano’s job status.
Pagano, executive director of the commuter rail service since 1990, was put on paid administrative last week amid a probe that he paid himself an unauthorized $56,000 bonus. The probe expanded to look at “more serious allegations of official misconduct,” according to the attorney hired to conduct Metra’s inquiry.
On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin revealed he asked Calvin L. Scovel III, inspector general of the U.S. Transportation Department, to investigate whether federal funds were misused.
And the Cook County state’s attorney reportedly had decided to launch a criminal probe.
Metra released a statement this morning confirming Pagano’s death.
“It is with great sadness that we report the passing this morning of Philip A. Pagano,” according to the statement from Metra’s board of directors. “Phil served this agency with distinction for many years. Today, we shall remember the good work he achieved with our board of directors and the men and woman of Metra. He was dedicated to our passengers and he always considered the men and women of Metra his family and there is a tremendous sense of loss within the agency.
“We shall remember him as a dedicated husband, father and grandfather who loved his family more than anyone. Our deepest sympathies as well as our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and all those who loved him.”
During an emergency meeting last week, the Metra board placed Pagano on paid leave and hired independent attorney James Sotos to conduct an internal investigation.
“The investigation will center on, but not be limited to, the alleged unauthorized money paid to Mr. Pagano and whether policies and procedures were violated,” Metra board chairman Carole Doris said last week.
Pagano had agreed to remain on leave until the investigation ends and will continue to collect his $269,625 salary, Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.
His death Friday happened near at the tracks near Hillside Road, just west of Terra Cotta Road in McHenry County.
McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren has scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference to discuss the subject.