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The Phil Pagano Legacy

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 11, 2011 9:30PM

Former Metra Chief Phil Pagano committed suicide a year ago May 7. We'll admit we found Pagano's story like peeling back layers of an onion, and the revelation that Pagano took $475,000 in vacation pay was just the beginning. Later it was discovered that Pagano's financials weren't square because he was supporting multiple homes. Then there was the fight for his pension, which his widow eventually won.

The Daily Herald looked at how much Pagano's actions have cost Metra - an astounding $3 million and counting. Metra's board of directors hired consultants who, probably realizing they had an open faucet with Metra, hired consultants themselves, to the tune of $2 million. Daily Herald reporter Marni Pyke lists other costs resulting from the Pagano investigation.

$89,375 to attorney James Sotos’ firm, hired by Metra last spring to investigate the allegations against Pagano.

$47,098 was spent by the Regional Transportation Authority in 2010 to audit Metra regarding pension fund misuse.

$896,885 paid to security consultants Hillard Heintze as of mid-April. Metra hired the firm to act as its inspector general and report on fraud or waste.

$1.16 million to the law firm of Johnston Greene legal advice. Johnston Greene, in turn, hired Blackman Kallick, an accounting firm, and Protek, a computer firm, as consultants.

A $90,000 fine from the Federal Transit Administration levied against Metra last month for failing to submit proper documentation for lobbying firm contracts that Pagano personally handled.

Metra is now coming under fire from legislators for hiring Johnston Greene, Hillard Heintze and Blackman Kallick without putting contracts for services to bid. Metra countered that the extent of Pagano's fiscal impropriety demanded immediate action and putting out contracts on bid would have prevented that.

They also said that the services provided by the consultants was money well spent.