Friday, May 14, 2010

Metra report says Pagano guilty of financial improprieties

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In a report issued at to the Metra Board of Directors at its may 14 meeting, James G. Sotos, an attorney hired by the Board to look into the possible financial improprieties by Metra Executive Director Philip Pagano, said: "This investigation revealed substantial evidence of financial irregularities and abuses carried out by a person at the highest level of Metra who, as a result of that position, was in the best position to perpetrate these acts. Other than Mr. Pagano, however, we did not find evidence of any other Metra employees seeking to enrich themselves at the public's expense. On the other hand, we believe the rigorous control of Metra implemented by Mr. Pagano, and the magnitude of his accomplishments for the company clearly created a culture of trust in and loyalty to Pagano, which seriously curtailed any realistic hope that he would be held accountable for the financial irregularities that should have been obvious to upper management personnel around him. Ironically, and tragically, it was Mr. Pagano who paid the ultimate price for the creation of that culture."

The report stated that Pagano violated Metra Rules of Conduct RC2 (falsifying or giving false information) and RC9 (dishonesty) (Attachment G, Employee Handbook, pp. GI - G2), and likely various state and federal criminal laws by engaging in the following conduct:

a. In January 2010, Pagano forged Metra Board Chairman Carole Doris's signature on a January 11, 2010 vacation payout request memo in order to obtain a $57,000 payment for unearned 2011 vacation time.

b. In January 2010, Pagano forged Doris's signature on a June 12, 2009 vacation payout memo that had requested a $57,000 payment for largely unearned 2010 vacation time in order to convince Metra's Senior Corporate Director of Financial Affairs, to disburse the $57,000 payout Pagano was seeking for unearned 2011 vacation time in January 2010.

From 2007-2010, Pagano violated Metra's vacation policy by obtaining approximately $225,000 in public funds as a result of cashing out all of his vacation time at the beginning of the calendar year for which the vacation time was allotted, or during the preceding year, without regard to whether he used the vacation days to take time off work. (

From 1999-2006, Pagano violated Metra's vacation policy by obtaining approximately $250,000 in public funds as a result of cashing out most of his vacation time at the beginning of the calendar year, without regard to whether he used the vacation days to take time off work.

"Our investigation to date has not revealed evidence that any Metra employee other than Pagano utilized vacation pay or any other employee benefits to enrich themselves at the public expense." Sotos said.

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