In present-day Italy people have to jump through hoops to get a wage at the end of the month and to consider taking on two jobs, sometimes illegally, is something everyone in the country accepts to a certain extent. Certainly this is not correct and even against the law, yet there is a widespread perception that justice, understood as complex of rules, often has little to do with justice understood as an absolute value with respect to the individual.
Yet, when this mechanism is not connected to the concept of survival, but is used to rake on the shoulders of the citizens, earning considerable public money and taking advantage of one’s privileged position, general perception changes. It turns into anger when people realize that the terrain where this outrage is being consumed is health service. A slap in the face of the citizens’ rights.
From this point of view, the sentence n.88, 2015, lifts reveal yet another fraud in the field of national health service. The main character in this story is a neurosurgeon who worked in the “Santa Rita” clinic in Milan, affiliated with the Local Health Authority. The “baron”, that is, one of the university professors who was carrying on also professional activity, was not satisfied with the two salaries he earned as a full-time doctor and university professor. Therefore, he carried on also extra moenia activities.
And he did not do so for little money: the professor has earned illegally 747.912 thousand euros over the years, having ‘worked’ in 11 different clinics, nursing homes, and private hospitals (in the Lombardy, Venetian and Lazio regions), 8 insurance companies, 1 private insurance fund, and 1 trading company. Most of the times he did so by producing false attestations of lack of incompatibility.
On a juridical level, the question was rather complex, to the point of having gone through several judgment instances. There was an overlap of unavailability as university professor, time subtracted to his hospital activity as an employee, and finally the illegality of his extra moenia activity. In short, a hotchpotch of job positions, skills and overlaps that ended up under the examination of the Court of Auditors. At that point, the legal battle shifted to the limitation periods, the calculation of the net instead of the gross, and – as the defence asked – to the absence of malice because the professor thought he was acting lawfully, since his ”freelance” activities were occasional and sporadic”.
Judges accountants analysed thoroughly those allegations, but it goes without saying that everyone can imagine what were the arraignments and the line of defence. Especially in the light of the sacrifices people make to provide for their families and stay within the boundaries of legality, as well as in the light of the difficulty many of them experience in making ends meet and paying all the taxes, including Public health. Perhaps this is a populist way of thinking, but until proven otherwise, society is made of people who should be always respected.
The magistrates discounted the objections raised by the defence, yet affirmed that the “behavioural context of the agent subject… [offers] adequate details to consider that silence was intentional and prearranged so as to conceal damage”. Put otherwise, according to the judges, the professor knew very well that he was pocketing money for activities he should not carry out. In the end, albeit with a large economic excerpt, the he was condemned and the sentence was a heavy one: the professor will have to return 306,737.07 euros to the University of Genoa (along with currency revaluation and legal interests). Upon closer examination and to the delight of the “people”, the professor paid a high price for his title of “baron”.