Italian cop faked illness to become lifeguard

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The traffic cop was jailed for 18 months after photos showed him on a beach in Calabria. Beach photo: Shutterstock
12:13 CEST+02:00
A policeman in Milan has been jailed after Facebook photos showed him working as a lifeguard in southern Italy, during one of his three summers on full-pay sick leave.

Mirko Direnzo spent the summers of 2006, 2008 and 2010 catching the waves on a Calabrian beach, escaping the hot city streets where his employers thought he was recovering from a recurrent injury.

To convince his fellow police officers of his poor health, Direnzo enlisted the help of two doctors who wrote a series of sick notes detailing a range of injuries supposedly sustained in the line of duty. His superiors duly signed him off work on full pay, Rai News reported.

Suspicions were not aroused until one of Direnzo’s colleagues was browsing Facebook and came across photos of the traffic cop working as a lifeguard in Guardia Piemontese, Calabria.

The presumably law-abiding officer informed the police station, who sent a patrol to the beachfront to film Direnzo saving lives while defrauding the state.

After enough evidence had been gathered, Direnzo was arrested and on Monday sentenced to 18 months in prison, plus given a €800 fine, Rai News said.

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Two doctors were also found guilty of helping him, one receiving a sentence of one year and three months, in addition to a €600 fine, while the other was sentenced to six months and ordered to pay €200.

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