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Metra Boss Steps Down, Taking More Than $400,000 In Severance

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Metra executive director Alex Clifford has resigned, taking a $442,000 buyout as he leaves the commuter rail agency.

The Metra board voted 9-1 on Friday to accept Clifford’s resignation, including the severance package for salary he would have earned under his existing employment agreement, accumulated sick and vacation time, and six months of severance pay.

Clifford’s contract ran through February 2014, and paid him $252,500 a year.

Under the severance agreement, if his next job does not pay him the same salary between August 2014 and August 2015, Metra will pay him the difference in salary. That could add up to nearly $300,000 if he does not find a job by August 2015.

Metra also will set up a $78,000 escrow account for moving expenses, according to a copy of the severance deal.

Clifford took the reins at Metra in February 2011, nearly 10 months after previous executive director Phil Pagano committed suicide by stepping in front of a moving Metra train.

At the time, Pagano faced dismissal for allegedly forging documents giving him an advance on unused vacation pay, which he took whether he worked the days or not. An audit determined that he may have pocketed as much as $475,000 in improper payments.

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