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When the Mafia serves espresso within the courthouse

3 min read
When the Mafia serves coffee in the courthouse

The 31 counts towards the crew arrested final week within the southern Italian metropolis of Potenza included mafia affiliation, homicide and extortion. But it was an allegation in depend No. 19 that was maybe essentially the most unimaginable: The suspects had been accused of working a restaurant proper contained in the courthouse.
Every day for greater than three years, prosecutors and investigators constructing felony circumstances sipped cappuccino and ate eggplant Parmesan on the courthouse eatery, which the authorities now say was managed by a strong clan of mobsters.
“They were in our home,” mentioned Francesco Curcio, the chief prosecutor in Potenza.
The clan, led by an area household, operated the cafe as a entrance, in keeping with court docket paperwork, to “potentially launder money and have a base inside the most important justice court in the district to acquire information.”
Hidden cameras put in by investigators captured the cafe’s workers bowing in respect to the boss of the household and consoling each other when his right-hand man was arrested on drug trafficking prices, in keeping with prosecutors and court docket paperwork.
The revelations in Potenza, capital of the southern area of Basilicata, have fueled considerations that felony organizations are getting greater and bolder. “Something is clearly not working in the anti-Mafia controls,” Curcio mentioned at a information convention.
The prosecution staff’s choice to maintain the three-year investigation secret from colleagues has additionally touched a uncooked nerve contained in the courthouse. Curcio acknowledged that it was “a difficult situation from a human perspective.”
Prosecutors who knew the cafe was underneath investigation would seize a espresso and chat with workers to maintain up appearances. But most didn’t know.
That meant investigative secrets and techniques in different circumstances may have been spilled over espresso, the prosecution staff acknowledged. But, they mentioned, warning courthouse colleagues would have jeopardized all the inquiry. The staff mentioned that it had simply needed to hope fellow prosecutors had been discreet in what they mentioned on the cafe.
Some legal professionals had been lower than understanding.
“So many police, prosecutors, carabinieri went up to the bar to have coffee,” mentioned Davide Pennacchio, an area lawyer. “And who knows how many things they could have said?”
It was truly an episode involving Pennacchio that helped set off the inquiry.
Pennacchio and a associate had competed for a similar courthouse cafe contract, submitting an attraction after they misplaced. He then acquired, in a hall of the courthouse, a warning from a clan member to again off, in keeping with court docket paperwork.
Investigators who adopted up started to suspect that the brand new bar possession was a entrance. The police put in bugs and cameras within the cafe and began wiretapping suspects, getting a clearer image of the household’s actions. Among different issues, they mentioned, the clan managed a gaming cafe and was behind a jewellery retailer theft within the metropolis.
Prosecutors mentioned that they let the mobsters suppose they had been outsmarting the authorities.
“If a criminal from another group goes there and sees they are managing the courthouse cafe,” Curcio mentioned, “they must think, ‘Man these guys are smart.’ ”
He mentioned that “criminal prestige” was most likely the principle purpose that the household had sought management of the cafe.
Basilio Pitasi, a lawyer for Saverio Riviezzi, who the prosecutors declare is the clan’s boss, mentioned that the household was not a Mafia group. He added that Riviezzi had already been cleared of such allegations previously.

Pitasi mentioned that the so-called Riviezzi clan — which authorities say ran the cafe — didn’t management any territory or function “diffused intimidation,” two components that he mentioned had been basic to defining a mafia group.
Reverend Marcello Cozzi, president of a suppose tank, the Center for Studies and Research on the South, mentioned that the Mafia households in Basilicata, together with the Riviezzis, are “young compared to other Mafias in Italy that go back over 150 years.”
“But,” he added “they kill, extort and infiltrate the economy.”
Pennacchio, the lawyer who misplaced out on the cafe contract, mentioned {that a} good friend had discovered yet another drawback, with the eatery’s roast hen: “Hard as plastic,” he mentioned.