Chicago rail chief defrauded agency of $475,000

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CHICAGO — An investigator says the head of Chicago’s commuter rail service who committed suicide last week by stepping in front of a train had admitted to forging a signature to collect an unauthorized $56,000 bonus.

Special Counsel James Sotos says Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano had defrauded the agency of approximately $475,000 since 1999.

Sotos told the Metra board of directors Friday that Pagano never explained why he needed the money.

Board members say they were stunned by Pagano’s yearslong fraud.

Authorities say Pagano died instantly when he was struck by a Metra train near his home in suburban Chicago on May 7, just hours before agency’s board was scheduled to discuss the investigation into his alleged fraud.