Former Brothers of Italy city councillor arrested for mafia collusion

Mimmo Russo

 ROME – Fratelli D’Italia’s former Palermo city councillor, Mimmo Russo, was arrested on charges of collusion with the mafia, police said.

 Russo, 69, is accused of “external complicity in mafia association” including "political-mafia vote exchange, aggravated extortion, bribery, and complicity in corruption for acts contrary to official duties."

 According to Palermo Prosecutor’s Office, who issued the warrant for his arrest, the politician allegedly secured jobs for unemployed mafia members at local supermarkets and associations that were financed with public funds.

 Prosecutors have also alleged that Russo gave money and petrol coupons to mafia members, which were then distributed by the Cosa Nostra clans to buy votes in the city districts. This gave the mafia and Russo de facto control of the elections.

 Russo was one of three arrested by the carabinieri on Tuesday morning. The two others are FDI member Gregori Marchese, 61, son of mafia hitman Filippo Marchese and Russo’s "right-hand man", and business consultant Achille Andò, 73. They have been placed under house arrest.

 The investigation which was coordinated by the Palermo's anti-mafia investigation office began after several statements and wiretaps showed the former councillor was using the mafia to bribe voters.