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In the 70’s, it was quite a fashionable thing to do in Italian barracks, that it became one of the leitmotif of second class films, where Marshal quartermaster took home with him “everything and even more” at the expense of the State. Then, however,with the growing civic consciousness (and a number of judicial enquiries as well as new regulations) the concept of the military service had been redefined, reducing the entrustee to a mere manager who managed public money and hence had to spend it parsimoniously and had to account for it.

Nevertheless, Italy – the country of smart guys – never ceases to amaze us, and thus in the third millennium, there are those who also reinvent ancient methods to steal from the public citizen, taking home with them everything: from pasta, tomatoes, ham, salt, oil, wine, etc. An entire variety of foodstuffs which end up directly from the barrack’s pantry to the set table of some buyer. And we are not talking about two olives and a piece of bread, but of food to the amount of 249,688 .06 Euros!

What went on? Simple: the amount of foodstuffs delivered by the companies would be stocked and they resulted in being more than the ordered amounts by the company, hence the food available in the pantry was more than the required amounts of the department entrusted with the packaging of the food. To “cook the books” the quantities would be altered even with a whitener or just simply corrected with a pen. As if-in the arrogance of corrupt doing -it were normal to err continually for months on end.

Once the Marshal quartermaster,got “caught” out , he admitted having altered the log-books but as it was impossible to ascertain how much extra quantity food was in the warehouse or how much he had earned from this by subtracting money from the coffers of the barracks,– if inferred – legally speaking of course – a court case could not be started for embezzlement (art. 215 military penal code) and so the matter was filed during the criminal proceeding.

But the accounting judges did not give in, and have appealed to art. 194 of Regio Decree No. 827 of1924 to nail the unfaithful militaryman to his responsibilities: “deficiencies, damage or decrease in money or ‘removable’ things were a result of theft, force majeure or natural decay, are not admissable and donot allevaite liability of accounting agents if the justifications are not presented as set out in the regulations “. In short, after so many years, unable to understand where all the caciotte-cheese and watermelons had ended up, however, they asked the commissary some supporting documents justifying why thousands of groceries had been emptied from the warehouse. But no one had made a point of writing anything and so the condemnation followed. With this setting, in fact, you don’t need to apply for a criminal offence, neither does the judge need to have evidence for the existence of malice or serious negligence. The Marshal together with a non-commissioned officer and an officer for omitted control, were sanctioned for 20 thousand Euros . (decision No. 51/2015, Sec. Veneto)

We have avoided naming the people involved in this episode so as not to label thousands of honest military-men serving the country with great spirit of sacrifice as scoundrels. But we conclude by giving an idea of the turnover attributable to tax losses in the public administration. The latest figures provided by the Guardia di Finanza in the annual report 2014: out of 11,626 persons reported, 2,275 interventions; damage encountered for an estimate cost of 2.672.918.275 Euros. A figure that we write out in full so as to make quite clear the seriousness of the situation. Practically, it reads that; two biollion sixhundred and seventy-two million and nine hundred and eighteen thousand two hundred and seventy-five Euros…simply frittered away! And then we wonder why it always gets worse in Italy …

Translation provided by Marina Stronati

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