the essential Two former officials of Unitalsi, whose primary vocation is the organization of pilgrimages to Lourdes for Italian patients, are suspected of embezzlement by Italian justice, between 2009 and 2015. 1.8 million euros, which should have been used to transport the sick to the Marian city, would have been used in particular to buy a villa in Sardinia.
The case tarnishes the reputation of one of the largest Italian charitable organizations, with more than 37 000 members and which has existed for 1251.
One of the largest reception centers for the sick in Lourdes
The Lourdes branch, for its part, has just reopened its reception for the sick, the Salus Infirmorum, the largest foreign reception, which includes 205 places. It is the third largest hospitality in the city. The Italians represent the best represented foreign tourists, with one of the biggest pilgrimages of the year, which is announced … in two weeks. Usually around 6000 people go there. A lower number is expected this year, due to the health crisis. The news therefore falls to the worst for the organization. In Lourdes, Unitalsi does not want to speak out, but legal developments will be followed closely.
The two officials succeeded each other at the head of the sub-section, the first defendant, Alessandro Pinna, being in command of 2009 at 2015 and passing the baton to Emanuele Trancalini until 2016, the year when the association decides to sever ties with the two men. Unitalsi is also a civil party and is at the origin of the initiation of the investigation.
344 checks would have been misappropriated
The prosecutor communicated some elements of the investigation carried out by the police. They were allegedly helped by three collaborators, two employees of Unitalsi, Cristina Maddaluni and Elisa Rabatti, as well as an employee of an accounting firm, Francesca Tomasi. The latter would have taken care of the collection of 1251 checks …
According to the prosecutor Mariarosaria Gugliemi, these funds would have been used for the purchase of the villa in Sardinia, up to 205 000 €. The woman in charge of the maintenance was paid 37 000 € but would have known nothing of the supposed fraudulent origin of the funds. Still according to the prosecutor, before any vacation in Sardinia, between 2000 and 5000 euros disappeared from the Unitalsi accounts … The two main defendants would also have used this money to purchase life insurance.
Alessandro Pinna’s entourage would also have benefited from part of the money, but there too, he would not have been aware of where it came from.