Windsor Star

`KING OF ABSENTEEIS­M' PLAYED HOOKY FROM WORK FOR 15 YEARS

- NICK SQUIRES

An idle Italian public servant allegedly drew a salary for 15 years without putting in a single day's work, costing the state 538,000 euros ($809,000).

Salvatore Scumace was supposed to be a fire safety officer in the Pugliese-ciaccio Hospital in the town of Catanzaro, in the southern region of Calabria.

Instead, the man hailed by one Italian newspaper as “the king of absenteeis­m,” skipped off every day.

He was spotted in the hospital just once — the day he went in to sign his work contract, back in 2005.

Italy has a chronic problem with “ghost” public officials who never turn up for work or clock on and then disappear for the day, sometimes holding down jobs in the private sector.

Scumace allegedly threatened the directors of the hospital, saying they and their relatives would be hurt if they revealed the fraud.

He was found out after police discovered an anomaly when they compared a list of hospital staff with the shifts that they worked.

After an investigat­ion, he was fired in September last year. The 66-year-old has now been charged with aggravated extortion, fraud and abuse of office.

Six of his bosses face charges of abuse of office for not having investigat­ed. Scumace was not the only absentee employee on the hospital's books.

Another 57 employees of the hospital were recently accused of absenteeis­m and are under investigat­ion.

On the days when they skipped work, they were allegedly seen playing slot machines, drinking in bars or shopping at the supermarke­t.

In 2015, it emerged that council employees were clocking in for work and then heading to the beach, to the shops or even back to bed in a town on the Italian Riviera.

A months-long covert investigat­ion found that up to 75 per cent of council employees in San Remo, which is famed for its annual music festival and lies just across the border from Monaco and Nice, failed to show up for work.

One security guard regularly turned up in his underpants, punched his time card and then went back to bed.

The guard lived on the premises of Palazzo Bellevue, the council's main office, enabling him to return to his flat.

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