After less than three years as head of the Chicago Crime Commission, James Wagner is stepping down for unstated "personal reasons."
The surprise announcement from the nation's oldest, private crime-fighting organization was made without fanfare in a Thursday afternoon fax from CCC Chairman Robert M. Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald cited Mr. Wagner's efforts in the commissions opposition to a Chicago-owned gambling casino and to the strengthening of state gaming regulations.
Wagner is a lifetime lawman who spent most of his time on the job as an FBI agent. As a career special agent with the FBI here in Chicago, he toiled for years on Outfit cases, eventually becoming supervisor of the organized crime squad.
Wagner had trained many of the federal agents whose investigation resulted in last year's convictions of top hoodlums Frank "The Breeze" Calabrese Sr., Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, James "Little Jimmy" Marcello and more than a dozen other Chicago mob figures in connection with 18 unsolved gangland murders.
Considered an expert on Chicago organized crime lore, Wagner was called as the first prosecution witness in the federal case known as Operation Family Secrets. His testimony set the stage in the landmark trial.
Wagner came to the CCC in January 2006 after a run as chief investigator for the Illinois Gaming Board. During his tenure, Wagner rejuvenated the crime commission's focus on it roots: the Chicago Mob.
Organized crime was raging when the commission was founded in 1919, the same year that Al Capone moved to Chicago.
The announcement of Wagner's departure doesn't indicate if he will be taking a new position elsewhere and he was not immediately available for comment.
Several directors of the crime commission offered praise for Wagner, noting the "many accomplishments" that occurred under his leadership. "He was the personification of the Chicago Crime Commission," said commission chairman Fitzgerald. According to the CCC statement, a successor has not been named.
Thanks to Chuck Goudie
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