Anthony M. Quattrone
The Carabinieri have arrested 56 people in Naples who have been accused of fraudulently receiving invalidity pensions for many years. Some of the fake invalids have been arrested while they were driving cars, although they were receiving a pension for suffering from blindness. One of the “blind” was also observed by the police while he was reading a newspaper in a cue at the post office, while another was counting money received from a customer at her lingerie stand at the market.
The investigation that led to the arrest of the fake invalids started in 2007, when city officials noted that some documentation supporting the requests for invalidity pensions appeared to be false. The Carabinieri have ascertained that the false documentation was produced mainly in the Pallonetto area in the S. Ferdinando neighborhood, where an unusual concentration of invalids had requested a pension over the past three years. The false documents included both medical and administrative papers.
According to “Il Mattino”, the social security system has paid over a million euro (approximately 1.5 million dollars) to fake invalids in Naples over the past three years. Some of the fraudulent invalids had the photographs on their identity cards touched up to widen the pupil of the eyes, in an attempt to “appear” blind. While the public prosecutor has accused the fake invalids of fraud, the investigators are conducting an inquiry to ascertain whether there has been collusion on the part of corrupt civil servants in granting the pensions to the false invalids.
“La Repubblica” reports that a young local politician might be behind the false invalidity pensions in the Pallonetto area. According to some residents, the young politician promised jobs and false invalidity pensions in exchange for votes. The Pallonetto, which is immediately behind the waterfront area hosting the major hotels on the waterfront, was known as a major center for cigarette contraband. With the recent dissolution of the contraband market, the Pallonetto has lost one of its major sources of revenue, and both the official and unofficial unemployment statistics have risen.
Anthony M. Quattrone
A Chamber of Deputies commission, responsible for examining requests by the judiciary to arrest a representative, voted on 25 November 2009 against authorizing the detention of Nicola Cosentino, with 11 votes against the arrest, six in favor, and who abstained. The final decision regarding Cosentino will be made, however, on 10 December 2009, when the House will be called, during a full session, to vote on the request made by the Office of the Public Prosecutor to arrest him for external participation in the activities of the Camorra, the Neapolitan organized crime. On the same day, the Senate voted against two motions put forward by the opposition requesting that Cosentino, be removed from his position as undersecretary of the ministry of the economy in the Berlusconi government. Both motions were rejected by the ample majority supporting the Berlusconi government in the Senate.
While the Cosentino case continues through the parliamentary process, Gioandomenico Lepore, the Naples public prosecutor, confirmed that the case inquiry against Cosentino will continue. Lepore stated that the judiciary and Parliament have different roles, and that “we have understood this issue in one way, while they have understood it in another. This does not impede us from continuing ascertaining the facts. If we find elements supporting our case, then we will continue; if not, we will stop. In the meantime, the investigation continues”.
Cosentino, who is the regional coordinator for Berlusconi’s Popolo della Libertà (PdL) party, is continuing his campaign to become the next president of the Campania Region in the elections that will take place next March. In an interview published on the Naples edition of La Repubblica on 6 December 2009, Cosentino stated that he will never give up and will not allow the opposition to win. He stated that “I am, we are in the electoral campaign. The voters have understood that in this Region we are the only valid alternative to the last fifteen years of bad government,” referring in particular to the administration of Antonio Bassolino, who has been the “governor” of the Campania Region since 2000. Cosentino is convinced that the accusations against him are politically driven. He notes that if the magistrates have been investigating him since 1990, for external relationships with the organized crime family Casalesi, he wonders why they have come out only now with formal accusations. According to Cosentino, “the only reason behind the request to arrest me is to stop me from participating in the campaign” for president of the Region.