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January 29, 2013

Because While Crime May Not Always Pay, the Government Does

 

A few years ago someone pointed out to me that the top four stories on a website called Mafia Today were about how organized crime was getting increasingly involved in scamming the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

One of the stories focused on New York’s Bonanno crime family, which the article asserted was operating out of Florida, ground zero for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Russian and Nigerian mobs have also jumped in.

As a 60 Minutes expose pointed out three years ago, one of those who was caught explained he could make “$20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 a day.”  And here’s the thing: Had he been a little less greedy, settling for, oh, maybe $10,000 a day, he might have stayed under the radar screen and never been caught.

Well, all the Medicare and Medicaid fraud proceeds apace, but now organized crime has yet another way to scam the government: green energy subsidies.

The Washington Post reposts that organized crime has infiltrated the green energy industry in Italy.

“As the Italian government began offering billions of euros annually in subsidies for wind and solar development, the potential profitability of such projects also soared—a fact that did not go unnoticed by Sicily’s infamous crime families.

“Roughly a third of the island’s 30 wind farms—along with several solar power plants—have been seized by authorities. Officials have frozen more than $2 billion in assets and arrested a dozen alleged crime bosses, corrupt local councilors and mafia-linked entrepreneurs. Italian prosecutors are now investigating suspected mafia involvement in renewable-energy projects from Sardinia to Apulia.”

The Post says the revelations have forced the cash-strapped Italian government to cut back on green energy subsidies. Wish we could say the same for the cash-strapped U.S. government, but President Obama is putting the “petal” to the metal.

Which raises the proverbial question: Which is the greater crime, when the government steals taxpayer money to give to green energy or when the mob steals it from the government?

So don’t be surprised if those Italian mobs refocus their energies in the U.S., because while crime doesn’t always pay, the government does.


 

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