THE NEARLY weeklong saga of Mayfair's "Swiss Cheese Pervert" is over, and the man allegedly behind the lactose lewdness was being grilled by police yesterday.
Chris Pagano, 41, was arrested outside his home on Noble Street near Airy in Norristown early yesterday by officers from the borough's police department and detectives from Philadelphia police's Special Victims Unit.
Neighbors who watched the scene unfold said cops staked out Pagano's home for about an hour, and had their guns drawn when he finally answered the door.
Pagano has been charged with stalking, indecent exposure and related offenses stemming from three incidents in Mayfair, police said.
In those encounters, Pagano allegedly approached women with his genitals exposed and asked them to perform sexual acts on him using a piece of Swiss cheese.
Pagano's neighbors were not surprised to learn of his arrest.
"He's creepy," said Rae Dean, who lives a few houses away from Pagano. "He'll come outside with his underwear on. One time he came outside carrying a gun with just his underwear on."
Dean said Pagano moved to the neighborhood about nine years ago and lives there with his wife and 10-year-old daughter.
A woman that Dean later identified as Pagano's wife was seen leaving the home yesterday afternoon with a small dog. She wore a scarf to conceal her face, and declined to comment before driving away.
"I just feel bad for their daughter," Dean said.
Other children in the neighborhood "knew to stay away" from the Pagano home, Dean said, after he made an odd offhand comment to her.
"When we asked him to put a fence up around his back yard, he told me, 'There's no telling what would happen to kids if they ran into my house,' " Dean recalled.
"Why would you say that?" she said.
A 14-year-old who lives next door to Pagano said he's seen him walking around naked in that unfenced back yard, often with his daughter nearby.
The teen said that Pagano and his family mostly kept to themselves and rarely interacted with other people on the street.
Richard Shoates, who lives across from the Pagano family, painted a similar picture.
"He wasn't a neighbor who socialized. He was very private," Shoates said.
"It's hard to trust someone like that," he said. "There are a lot of kids around here. I'm glad he got caught before one of them had to encounter him like that."
Records show that yesterday's arrest wasn't Pagano's first, nor was it the first time cheese played a role in his late-night activities.
In 2006, Pagano was arrested by two undercover Norristown police officers during a prostitution sting after offering them "$20 to wrap Swiss cheese around [his] penis and masturbate him," according to an affidavit obtained by the Daily News.
Three years later, a Norristown woman told police Pagano accosted her in the wee hours of the morning on Airy Street, not far from Pagano's home. He produced a block of Swiss cheese and offered her $20 to rub it on his penis, according to the affidavit in that incident.
In both cases, Pagano was charged with criminal solicitation and disorderly conduct. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, and the solicitation charges were dismissed, court records show.
Mayfair community leaders are satisfied with the outcome of Pagano's latest brush with the law.
"We're happy this individual is off the streets," said Milt Martelack, the Mayfair Town Watch's senior adviser. "We take a lot of pride in our community, and we hope that there are real consequences for this behavior, which is sick and twisted."
Elsewhere in the Northeast Philly neighborhood, the staff of the Grey Lodge Pub celebrated Pagano's arrest in their own way.
The eatery's latest special is the "Swiss Cheese Pervert," a grilled Swiss cheese sandwich with prosciutto and caramelized onions.
"Luckily, this is a crime that is funny and not one that is really awful," said restaurant owner Mike Scotese.
"We ought to be able to celebrate the absurdity of this."