Phil Pagano Bankrolled Three Households, says Attorney

Bankruptcy filings paint picture of why former Metra chief was in such desperate need of money

By Ivanna Hampton and Dick Johnson
|  Tuesday, Dec 7, 2010  |  Updated 11:04 PM CDT
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Pagano Had Three Lives: Report

Chicago Sun-Times

Pagano's Suicide Note | Former Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano left a note before committing suicide by stepping in front of a train. The note expressed Pagano's apologies and said he "loved" Metra.


It's known that Metra accused Phil Pagano of committing fraud to the tune of nearly $500,000.  It's known that he lived in an unpretentious home in Crystal Lake.  And it's known that he took his own life in May.

But until the last week, it wasn't understood why Pagano was in such a desperate need of money. 

James Mullally, who represents Barbara Pagano, wife of the deceased former Metra chief, disclosed in bankruptcy court last week that Pagano bankrolled two other households in addition to the couple's Crystal Lake household

Phil Pagano did once life in a nondescript apartment complex in Palatine and other units have had owners with the same last name.  And in Chicago and in Streamwood, several properties bear the name of Phil Pagano and/or his wife, but none since the 80s and 90s.

Bankruptcy trustee Stephen Balsley said he wants to ask some difficult questions of Pagano under oath.

"We want to know what he had in his name, and if they're homes, we'd like to know who owns the homes, whether they're his homes or whether he'd made gifts to other people," he told NBC Chicago via telephone.

Barbara Pagano, 54,  is fending off dozens of creditors who want more than $1 million to pay off the debts her husband racked up before his May 7 suicide.

There were 27 credit cards with $177,000 in expenses, court records show, including four from Bank of America with a balance total of roughly $49,000, one Nordstrom card with $9,800 worth of debt, a Target card with $6,800, one Diners Club account with a balance of $3,400 and credit cards from Pottery Barn, Toys R Us and Kohl's.

Back at the Crystal Lake home, the debt keeps growing.  It's worth $340,000 but is mortgaged twice for $765,000.  Two cars have big loan balances as well: $67,000.

But Mrs. Pagano said she owes none of it. 

"Out of the ... debt that's out there, we intend to challenge each and every claim against Ms. Pagano," Mullay told the Chicago Tribune. "She had nothing to do with incurring this debt."

Pagano received more than $1 million in salary and extra compensation this year, according to records.  His widow is fighting to keep an estimated $80,000 share of his Metra pension and his $500,000 life insurance policy.

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