Mozzarella King under house arrest

NAPLES-The owner of one of Italy’s major mozzarella companies has been placed under house arrest Wednesday over allegations of criminal association and money laundering. Known as the Mozzarella King, Giuseppe Mandara is believed to have expanded his dairy empire since early 1980s with help from the La Torre clan of the Camorra mafia, operating in the town of Mondragone where his company is based.

 According to the investigators, the La Torre family allegedly helped Mandara get rid of his business rivals driving them off the neighbouring farms and paid off his company’s debts worth some 360.000 euros. 

 The cheese producer from Campania has already been arrested once, in 2012, on charges of mafia association and counterfeit mozzarella production, but now investigators have found new evidence thanks to testimony from State’s witnesses and phone taps.

 On the day of the arrest, Amedeo Laboccetta of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party openly defended Mandara: “(he) is a gentleman and an entrepreneur who produces wealth and employment, and yet he has been treated like a criminal for the past two decades,” he said. “How long does this manhunt have to go on?”