A woman who says she was romantically involved with former Metra chief Philip Pagano calls him a "proficient liar," but insists she was never set up in a "household" by the man who took his own life last May.
The woman's name came to light in the first day's after Pagano's suicide, even as Metra investigators were trying to determine the extent of a fraud they said approached a half of a million dollars.
Among Pagano's personal effects, several cancelled personal checks for utilities and other household needs were discovered for various women, along with love notes. At least one of those notes was from a 61-year-old massage therapist who operated a studio above a bank in Valparaiso, Ind.
That woman, who moved to New Mexico a month before Pagano stepped in front of a speeding Metra train, says she was involved in a romantic relationship with the railroad chief about four years ago.
She said she met Pagano on the online dating service eHarmony.com, that she knew he was the executive director of Metra, but did not know he was married.
"He said he was widowed... and that he had pancreatic cancer," the woman said in a telephone conversation Thursday. "Then, he said he was fine."
The woman, who requested that NBC Chicago not reveal her name, said she broke off the relationship eight months later after discovering that Pagano was married.
When asked about the developments of the last week, where Barbara Pagano's attorney revealed that her late husband had maintained at least two other "households" outside their marriage, the woman said she never had direct evidence of other women.
But, she quickly added: "I assumed it. He was such a proficient liar."
The Indiana masseuse denied that her relationship with Pagano ever reached the level of a "household," calling it a dating relationship and nothing more.
One of the woman's associates said she and her husband double-dated with the pair at least once, but said she found Pagano "stand-offish" during the evening.
Sources say one of the cancelled personal checks found among Pagano's personal belongings was for $10,000, but the masseuse insisted that check was not written to her.
All of his personal effects were returned to his wife, who last week began fighting to keep his $500,000 insurance settlement in a Rockford court.
The bankruptcy petition indicated that the former Metra chief was more than $1 million in debt at the time of his death.