Like Something Out Of A Movie: Alleged Shakedown On Metra Film Location

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The movie industry has brought millions of dollars to the Chicago area, shooting scenes all over the city and suburbs.

One or more Metra employees may have tried to get a piece of the action, CBS2 and the Better Government Association have learned. Now, the rail agency’s inspector general is investigating.

A Metra train has a starring role in the new Hollywood science fiction thriller, “Source Code.” It is one of the many movie negotiations handled for more than a decade by Jonathan Gottlieb, a Metra special transportation services manager.

2 Investigators/BGA

(Credit: CBS/BGA)

But after Gottlieb negotiated a $19,000 contract for “Source Code” last year, a film location manager reportedly complained that Gottlieb demanded additional cash for all his hard work — $2,000 — be delivered in an envelope to him or another Metra employee.  

On the morning of the first shoot, the complainant said, Gottlieb was furious to learn the money would not be delivered and said told her she’d never be able to work with Metra again.

Gottlieb denied any involvement and said his record is unblemished. He says a Metra police officer asked if he had demanded a kickback. 

“I said ‘No, no, no, no,’ OK? And that was the end of that,” Gottlieb said.

Soon after the alleged incident, he retired from his $73,000-a-year job.

Gottlieb says the only money he ever received from a movie production company was for work he did as an extra. He also said he once arranged for his condo association to be paid $1,900 for allowing a film crew shooting nearby to park vehicles behind his building.

The “Source Code” complaint was filed about the same time Metra Executive  Director Philip Pagano was accused of taking more than $1 million in unauthorized bonuses and advances. Pagano committed suicide shortly after the financial misconduct was revealed.

“Things changed and became very chaotic during that time, but that’s not to say this was dismissed by any means,” Metra spokesperson Judy Pardonnet told Zekman.

Pardonnet said that after inquiries by the BGA, the case was sent to Metra’s inspector general.

BGA Director Andy Shaw says the future of Illinois’ film trade depends on a complete investigation.

“I think we need to know if this was one incident or one of a hundred incidents,” Shaw said. “If a number of movie and television production companies have been shaken down this way, we need to send the word out that this has been stopped and it won’t happen again.”

Shaw praised the “Source Code” location manager for blowing the whistle and urged others in the industry to report any similar problems they have had. In the end, that will make Chicago and Illinois “a friendly place for television and movies,” Shaw says.

The other employee named in the location manager’s complaint still works for Metra. He refused to comment.

The firm of Hillard Heintze, Metra’s new interim inspector general, also declined to comment about their investigation.

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  • Mike Fangman

    Naturally, the assbag denies it like a kid being caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

  • Scotland Yard

    when zekman asked him if he was dirty his reaction and body language was all you needed to see mr gottlieb is as guilty as sin.GOOD JOB PAM


    what…!!! corruption in IL….naw has to mistaken, Why Lisa, Anita, And the Mayor himsemself would have been on top of this ( to get their fair cut :for the madigan mob, daley mob, and crook counhty thugs…..just can’t understand these outsideers come hers as tourist get beat up by our finest, go viral beating a tiny female bartender…now this?@ ..don’t they realize this is what they call street taz in chicago, home of corruption and thiefs, the legal onesmostly….

  • Mr. Tom

    I thought that Metra said there was no widespread corruption and that Pagano was the culprit. If Pagano was the culprit why was this information kept secret and Gottlieb retired, yea right. He was forced out but of course as everything at Metra goes, hush-hush. I knew that the Blackman & Kallick and Hillard & Heintze reports were sugar-coated and Metra is wasting taxpayers dollars. It is time for this waste and abuse to stop begnning with getting rid of the worthless Hillard & Heintze. Obviously, this information that tey knew about was not in their reoprt. I wonder why??????

  • The Big Dog

    You guys have only started to scratch the surface, as you look deeper into their hiring tactics, promotions within, side deals for services and consulting work, I am sure you will find out just how wide spread corrupt practices have infested this company!!!!!

  • 2 Investigators Prompt Deeper Metra Investigation Into Film-Kickback Claim « 2 Investigators Prompt Deeper Metra Investigation Into Film-Kickback Claim « CBS Chicago

    […] The 2 Investigators earlier this week revealed that a film location manager for the movie “Source Code” complained that a Metra employee who helped … […]

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