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Hospital employee paid almost $650,000 but 'never went to work,' Italian police say

NBC News logo NBC News 4/22/2021 Matteo Moschella and Henry Austin
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He took home almost $650,000. But it is alleged that Savatore Scumace did not do a day’s work for more than 15 years.

Authorities in Italy have placed six employees at the Pugliese Ciaccio hospital under investigation for abuse of office, after they allegedly allowed Scumace, 67, to get away with his scheme for well over a decade.

Italy’s financial police, the Guardia di Finanza, said in a statement that Scumace had been assigned to work in the fire safety department of the hospital in Catanzaro, a small city on Italy’s southern coast.

But they said he “never went to work for 15 years while getting his salary.”

His ruse was uncovered when investigators examined his attendance and telephone records, and spoke to some of his colleagues, the statement said.

Scumace, who is also under investigation for alleged fraud and aggravated extortion, allegedly used other people to threaten his line managers to keep quiet, the statement said.

In 2015, “a very distinct character” paid a visit to his now retired line manager “without invite and offering veiled but unequivocal threats regarding the manager and her family to avoid Scumace being reported and punished,” it said. It added that this person forced the postponement of disciplinary action against Scumace.

In total, the statement said he never went to work for 15 years while getting more than 538,000 euros or roughly $645,000.

Scumace was eventually fired in October after a hospital disciplinary process.

However, six other hospital workers and administrators have also been accused of abusing their positions at the hospital.

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Two of them were part of a commission of inquiry launched by the hospital that, despite what the police said was ample evidence, determined the suspects could not be disciplined.

The Pugliese Ciaccio hospital did not immediately respond to NBC News’s request for comment.

There have been a number of absenteeism cases in Italy in recent years. In 2015 a covert investigation by police found that around 75 percent of council employees in the town of San Remo were not showing up for work.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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