The former manager of Puglia regional civil protection Antonio Mario Lerario | Photo: Puglia Region Press Office/ANSA
The former manager of Puglia regional civil protection Antonio Mario Lerario | Photo: Puglia Region Press Office/ANSA

A former official in the Puglia regional civil protection office received bribes for assigning COVID facility contracts to two local businessmen, investigative sources have revealed. The former manager has been detained while the two businessmen have been placed under house arrest.

Antonio Mario Lerario, a former official in the civil protection office of the southern Italian Puglia region, has been accused of receiving bribes for assigning COVID facility contracts to two local businessmen, investigative sources said Sunday (December 26).

The two contracts, one for COVID-19 patients and the other for migrant management, were worth €2.8 million and €2.5 million, respectively.

Luca Ciro Giovanni Leccese and Donato Mottola have been identified as the two individuals involved. Prosecutors believe they paid bribes worth €10,000 and €20,000 to Lerario.

Work mainly about pandemic, migrant hosting

Evidence that led to Lerario's arrest and the entrepreneurs' home detention showed that the renovation work obtained through the civil protection department mainly concerned the COVID-19 emergency and migrant hosting in the camp of Borgo Mezzanone near the city of Foggia, according to investigative sources.

Tenders obtained by the construction company Edil Sella from Lecce included the electrical and water systems, as well as lighting at the governmental asylum seeker accommodation center (CARA) of Borgo Mezzanone and -- in particular -- the construction of an area including 53 housing units to isolate non-EU citizens who had tested positive for COVID-19.

The investigative probe also focused on a regional project for the creation of the 112 emergency number, which included hosting facilities for migrant seasonal workers in the area around the southern Italian city of Foggia.

The regional civil protection office had subcontracts with Leccese for construction and renovation work at the CARA center in Borgo Mezzanone, among other (sub)contracts with companies.

 

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