When the Mafia Serves Coffee in the Courthouse
04 May 2021

The 31 counts against the crew arrested last week in the southern Italian city of Potenza included mafia association, murder and extortion. But it was an allegation in count No. 19 that was perhaps the most incredible: The suspects were accused of operating a cafe right inside the courthouse.

Every day for more than three years, prosecutors and investigators building criminal cases sipped cappuccino and ate eggplant Parmesan at the courthouse eatery, which the authorities now say was managed by a powerful clan of mobsters.

“They were in our home,” said Francesco Curcio, the chief prosecutor in Potenza.

The clan, led by a local family, operated the cafe as a front, according to court documents, to “potentially launder money and have a base inside the most important justice court in the district to acquire information.”

Hidden cameras installed by investigators captured the cafe’s staff bowing in respect to the boss of the family and consoling one another when his right-hand man was arrested on drug trafficking charges, according to prosecutors and court documents.

The revelations in Potenza, the capital of the southern region of Basilicata, have fueled concerns that criminal organizations are getting bigger and bolder. “Something is clearly not working in the anti-Mafia controls,” Mr. Curcio said at a news conference.

By Gaia Pianigiani and Emma Bubola, The New York Times, 4 May 2021

Read more at The New York Times

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