Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New head of the Chicago Crime Commission

The ABC7 I-team has learned Illinois is losing its top gambling investigator, who is now taking over as head of the Chicago Crime Commission.

The I-team has learned that veteran mobfighter Jim Wagner accepted the job as president of the Chicago Crime Commission, a position that has been vacant for the past six months. Wagner is a career lawman but will soon leave the government job he has held for five years...that of chief investigator for the Illinois Gaming Board...a post that has put him right in the middle of the Rosemont casino controversy.

As the village of Rosemont saw dollar signs in landing a gambling casino...gaming board chief investigator Jim Wagner saw signs of trouble...alleged mob links to Rosemont mayor Don Stephens, the Emerald Casino and some of it's shareholders. "As you all know the Outfit makes its money on gambling; they always go were the cash is. So we have to remain diligent," said Jim Wagner on April 28, 2005.

Wagner will be remaining diligent against the outfit from a new vantage point: here at the Chicago crime commission where he takes over as president the middle of next month. He is expected to rejuvenate the crime commission's roots...that were planted in 1919: the same year that Al Capone moved to Chicago.

It was no coincidence that the nation's first citizen anti-crime organization grew during the heyday of the Chicago mob. Jim Wagner could be considered a modern day Elliott Ness the G-man who brought down Capone.

As a career special agent with the FBI here in Chicago, Wagner toiled for years on outfit cases, eventually becoming supervisor of the organized crime squad. Wagner had trained many of the federal agents whose investigation recently resulted in the indictment of top hoodlum Jimmy "the man" Marcello and more than a dozen other Chicago mob figures in connection with 18 unsolved gangland murders.

Mr. Wagner will replace Thomas Kirkpatrick as head of the crime commission. Kirkpatrick resigned last summer but his departure wasn't made known until the i-team revealed it ten days ago. "I'd say he did a pretty good job. It was time we branched out into different areas," said Douglas Kramer, Crime Commission Board Chairman in November 15, 2005 I-Team Interview.

One key area will have to be fundraising, attracting financial support from local businesses with programs such as the safe neighborhoods project that featured the late Johnny Cochran in TV ads. "If you're a felon caught with a gun...not even I can get you off, " Cochran says in the ad.

If Wagner can help cure the crime commission's dire financial ailment, his first major duty will be to hire a chief investigator. That person would undoubtedly share Wagner's educated belief that the mob in Chicago is far from dead as some so-called experts suggest.

The crime commission had hoped to keep Wagner's hiring under wraps until the organization's annual luncheon on December 14th, but last week Wagner informed his own staff at the gaming board.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

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