Ex-Rome mayor gets life ban on public office for corruption

ROME (AP) – A court in Italy’s capital convicted a former Rome mayor of corruption and illegal financing on Monday and sentenced him to six years in prison and a lifetime ban on holding public office.

Prosecutors had alleged that far-right politician Gianni Alemanno received nearly 300,000 euros (USD345,000) in illegal financing through a foundation he ran, thereby skirting political party financing laws.

The court acquitted Alemanno, who was elected Rome’s mayor in 2008 and lost a 2013 re-election bid, of mafia association.

Alemanno was allowed to remain free pending the outcome of any appeals. Leaving the courthouse, he told reporters that the “verdict is wrong. We’ll surely appeal,” before adding, “I’m innocent”.

His was one of several cases based on allegations that local mobsters created a Mafia-like clique to win lucrative public contracts and other advantages in exchange for kickbacks to City Hall officials and administrators.

As part of a sprawling investigation the Italian media dubbed ‘Mafia Capital’, prosecutors alleged they unearthed a well-oiled system of corruption that involved politicians from right to left.

During Alemanno’s trial, prosecutors alleged that suspected mobsters paid money to the foundation he ran to grease the way for cronies to be appointed to top posts in municipal agencies, such as the one that oversaw trash collection, Italian newspapers reported.

The public contracts mobsters allegedly were eager to infiltrate included those dealing with supplying food and other services for migrants who were rescued from smugglers’ boats in the Mediterranean Sea.

Former Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno stands during a photo opportunity in Rome on May 21, 2013. – AP