M5S candidate arrested for extortion in Sicily

Fabrizio La Gaipa

ROME- Accused of extortion, Fabrizio La Gaipa, 42, was arrested by Agrigento police following an investigation launched after reporters of “highly irregular” tax records. This story would not be note worthy if it were not for the fact that La Gaipa ran for office in the recent Sicilian elections. Even more embarrassingly, he was the 5 Star Movement’s candidate for the constituency.

 La Gaipa is a well known local hotelier, owner of the "Costazzurra Museum & Spa," with ties to a diverse collection of local industries: he is the former secretary of the Touristic Consortium Valley of theTemples, Board member of Confindustria hotels,  leader of the San Leone district committee, and had journalistic collaborations with La Sicilia and Ansa.

 The Five Star Movement (M5S) is built on the of mistrust of traditional politics and honesty of its members. It advocates for transparency, anti-corruption, and reduction of political salaries. Rome’s first female mayor and M5S member, Virginia Raggi, ran on a platform of anti-corruption. This is why La Gaipa’s fall from grace is so embarrassing for the party. The situation shows that their party is able to be utilised, like any other, by those who wish for private gain. More than that though, La Gaipa is an example of someone who used their message to gain standing within the community, a position of power which he clearly has exploited as he forced two employees to sign fake pay slips to assist in his fraud. First candidate, Luigi Di Maio said "we acted immediately, unlike the others," and “the government stands with deputy who arrested La Gaipa.”