Fugitive Former Cosmos Player and ex-Lazio Prez Giorgio Chinaglia Gets Hit With Mob ChargesBy: Laurie | July 23rd, 2008
Former New York Cosmos player Giorgio Chinaglia may be a lot of things, but you can’t accuse him of lacking audacity. If you saw the movie “Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos,” he was the one with the biggest ego. And back in the 1970s, he was the best player ever to play in America.
Just ask him.
Oh, wait. You can’t ask him. He’s now on the lam — a fugitive suspected of being part of a group that tried to oust a former Lazio president by attempting to buy the team using mob money.
Arrest warrants were first issued for Chinaglia and Co. in October, 2006. The original charges were extortion and insider trading. (Lazio is a publicly traded company, and the charges involved trying to influence the stock price.)
His comment at the time?
“President Lotito never wanted to sit at the table with the Hungarian group that was interested in acquiring the team,” Chinaglia said. “And if no one wants to believe that, then, enough, let’s forget it.”
Unfortunately for Chinaglia, the prosecutors didn’t forget it. And there was no Hungarian group. Chinaglia is currently being prosecuted in absentia in Rome, and this week they added the charge of money laundering. The prosecutors have spent the past two years digging, and have seized two million Euros in money allegedly laundered by the mob through foreign banks.
Seven of his co-defendants have been arrested. Chinaglia and two others are still at large. He’s thought to be somewhere in the US.
Lazio legend Giorgio Chinaglia used money from the Camorra’s infamous Casalesi clan for his failed takeover bid for his former club, police said Tuesday. ‘Long John’ took cash from the clan denounced in Roberto Saviano’s worldwide bestseller Gomorrah to fund the bid for which he is already on trial in Rome, they said. Police issued ten new arrest warrants including one for Chinaglia in the probe, which is based on wiretaps connected to the trial.
Chinaglia, who led Lazio to its first scudetto in 1974 and was briefly president of the Roman club, made a series of unsuccessful takeover attempts after he retired in 1983 to become a successful US businessman and soccer pundit. The last of these, via a non-existent Hungarian company, brokedown in 2006 amid allegations of mob involvement and violent attempted extortion against Lazio President Claudio Lotito.
”Mafia-style” threats were used against Lotito, police said.
Great person, huh?
But if you were paying attention before World Cup 2006, you knew something was fishy. He thought Germany was a bad team, and that Sven-Goran Eriksson and Bruce Arena were excellent.
Clearly something has long been off about the guy.