Metra won't hire ex-federal prosecutor for probe

CHICAGO — Metra says a former assistant U.S. attorney who'd agreed to investigate allegations that prominent politicians pressured staff in personnel and contract decisions won't take the job after all.

The public agency said Monday that Patrick Collins has backed out, citing a "potential conflict."

The Metra board of directors was to vote Monday on hiring Collins, who prosecuted the case that sent former Gov. George Ryan to prison for corruption.

The allegations involving Metra emerged during inquiries into a lucrative buyout for former CEO Alex Clifford.

Clifford says he was forced out for resisting pressure from House Speaker Michael Madigan and others over jobs and construction contracts.

Madigan says he recommended a Metra employee for a pay raise but backed off after learning Clifford was uncomfortable about his involvement.