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RTA executive involved in state harassment probe steps down

SPRINGFIELD-The Regional Transportation Authority’s top administrator, one of two agency executives facing a state harassment probe, announced his retirement Tuesday.

The transit agency said Joseph Costello, the RTA’s executive director since December 2010, intends to step down at the end of February “to pursue the next chapter in his life.”

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together during my 19 years at the RTA, and I feel the timing is right to explore new opportunities,” Costello said in a prepared statement in which he also thanked the RTA board and its chairman, John S. Gates, Jr.

Costello, 58, currently earns an annual salary of $222,000, an RTA spokeswoman said.

The announcement did not include any mention of an investigation by state Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza’s office into allegations of sexual and racial harassment directed at Costello and his chief of staff, Jordan Matyas, who is House Speaker Michael Madigan’s son-in-law.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in September that the Meza probe is focused on anonymous sexual and racial harassment complaints against Costello and Matyas that allegedly were made at meetings and were lodged more than a year ago.

Costello did not respond to comment on that original report, but Matyas dismissed the allegations as the byproduct of a “smear campaign” against him.

“These accusations are part of a smear campaign orchestrated by those who would rather that the RTA not be empowered by law to provide the real, effective oversight that is so desperately needed to ensure that northeastern Illinois has an efficient and world-class mass transit system,” Matyas said in a prepared statement earlier this fall.

An RTA spokeswoman did not respond to a query Tuesday from the Sun-Times about whether Costello or Matyas have been given any formal indication the Meza probe has ended or remains ongoing.