Official seeks assurance for Naples' U.S. renters
NAPLES, Italy — Americans have been renting homes reportedly belonging to Naples’ infamous Camorra mafia crime gang, prompting the senior NATO military officer in the country to seek assurances from Italian officials that Americans will be safe.
In a Nov. 3 statement, Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, expressed concern that NATO personnel are leasing property connected with organized crime.
"Since NATO personnel are in Italy as guests of the host government, we are seeking Italian Government assistance to ensure that its personnel are properly protected from criminal organizations and housed in an appropriate and secure environment," Fitzgerald’s statement reads.
Recently, Italy’s finance police sequestered several homes in the Camorra strongholds of Casal di Principe and San Cipriano d’Aversa and placed them on a three-year "block" for the collection of rent, Naples’ daily newspaper Il Mattino reported Wednesday.
Six of 40 homes sequestered by Italian authorities during a Sept. 29 raid are leased by U.S. personnel, Lt. Paul Macapagal, a base spokesman, said Wednesday in an e-mail response to questions.
No U.S. personnel have been or will be forced to leave any of the sequestered homes, base officials said. But two of the six U.S. residents have asked to relocate. The rest are still paying rent on the homes.
The rent is "paid to an escrow account to Italian authorities," housing officials wrote in the statement.
To try to avoid problems, the housing office has required landlords to submit documents such as an identification card, codice fiscale (the equivalent of a Social Security number), ownership of the house/title, and deed to the residence, officials said in an e-mailed statement. These documents are reviewed by housing office staff to determine if the unit has met the local standards for leasing.
After years of investigation by Naples’ anti-Mafia task force, authorities have seized homes and assets reportedly valuing 10 million euros, Il Mattino reported.
The head of Naples’ anti-mafia task force, Franco Roberti, censured NATO and U.S. officials for knowingly leasing houses to suspected mob bosses in a story published in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. Rent paid by Americans and NATO personnel garner landlords between 1,500 and 3,000 euros a month — fees that can be two or three times above the market value.
But the rents are higher for Americans because of the services landlords are required to provide, said a local Italian real estate agent and landlord representative.
"For any little thing, they call the landlord. A light bulb goes out, they call the landlord. The toilet seat breaks, they call the landlord," the agent said, asking that her name not be printed for fear of losing U.S. business. "Houses must be painted. They want ceiling fans, air conditioning, and landlords to pay for water and trash taxes."