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updated: 4/13/2011 5:08 AM

Metra looking into 'Source Code' shakedown

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  • Jake Gyllenhaal tries to find a hidden bomb in a thinly disguised Metra train in "Source Code."

      Jake Gyllenhaal tries to find a hidden bomb in a thinly disguised Metra train in "Source Code."
    Associated Press

 
 

Metra's inspector general is expanding a probe into whether a former employee tried to shake down a production company manager working on the thriller "Source Code."

Hillard Heintze, Metra's interim inspector general, also will review work on numerous other films that used Metra property, officials said.

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Officials confirmed Tuesday that Metra's retired manager of special transportation services is being investigated for trying to extort $2,000 on top of a $19,000 contract with "Source Code" producers. The movie used Metra train cars in scenes of a commuter train exploding.

Metra trains appear in numerous movies from "My Best Friend's Wedding" to the upcoming "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

"They are conducting a thorough investigation," Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.

The Metra official retired in June. Another employee is also under scrutiny, Pardonnet said, confirming a report on the scandal by the Better Government Association.

She could not comment on possible disciplinary action or whether the retiree's pension could be suspended.

"Right now, we're letting the investigators do their job," Pardonnet said.

No money exchanged hands on "Source Code," officials said. Instead the production company manager informed Metra of the attempted extortion last spring, they said.

The agency has experienced turmoil with the suicide of former Executive Director Phil Pagano in May while he was being investigated for financial misconduct.

"Allegations of wrongdoing are always of great concern," Pardonnet said. "Overall, our employees are very dedicated and professional."

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