A green mafia

Today we offer a cautionary tale from Italy, where the mafia has apparently been investing in wind farms and other forms of renewable energy to launder money.

In a series of raids earlier this year, Italian authorities seized the assets of more than 50 wind and solar companies after an investigation uncovered evidence that the mafia was using the firms to create clean, renewable energy and launder dirty money from criminal operations. A third of the wind farms on the island of Sicily have also been seized.

Details are still emerging, but news reports indicate the renewable energy industry in Italy became an attractive target for the mafia largely because it is so heavily subsidized. GlobalPost quotes Andrea Gilardoni, an economist at Milan’s Bocconi University, as saying Italy’s renewable energy subsidies may have been the highest in the world at their peak. “Even cats and dogs can make money in this climate,” she said.

According to a report from Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, “The Italian mafia is investing more and more in renewable energy, especially in wind farms, to profit from generous European grants paid for by member states which allow them to mix dirty money with legitimate economic activities.”

                                                                                                                                                                        BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

About 40 lawmakers sign on in support of legislation filed by Rep. Frank Moran of Lawrence to prevent the Patrick administration from closing 18 Registry of Motor Vehicle offices and replacing them with regional centers, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Gov. Deval Patrick is announcing grants of federal development aid totaling $31 million to 38 cities and towns, the Associated Press reports.

CASINOS

It seems safe to say there will be a lot more questions asked about former Plainridge Racecourse honcho Gary Piontkowski.

MARATHON BOMBING

Larry Harmon does the opposite of rush to the defense of Sergeant Sean Murphy, the State Police photographer who released without authorization photos of Dzokhar Tsarnaev at the scene of his Watertown capture.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse initially welcomed a Walmart proposed for his city, but is now saying he is against the project because it could jeopardize the neighborhood and threaten a supermarket planned for a nearby development, Masslive reports.

Police in Lawrence are searching for a man being described as Spiderman after he climbed 60 feet to the top of a steel mill’s roof to steal antique copper flashing, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

The chairwoman of the Westborough School Committee is charged with assault after allegedly slugging a woman at a neighborhood pool party, the MetroWest Daily News reports.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Mother Jones reports on meetings between conservative activists and journalists in Washington to coordinate their message and attacks on President Obama.

Gun rights groups in New Jersey launch a “Stop The Gun Control Madness Giveaway,” promising those who send letters of protest to Gov. Chris Christie the chance to win a rifle, shotgun, or handgun, the Star-Ledger reports.

Chief Justice John Roberts has stacked the intelligence courts with appointees deferential to government spying.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Lee receives a $175,000 federal grant to study the redevelopment of four defunct paper mills in town, the Berkshire Eagle reports.

Shirley Leung says Larry Summers is just what the Fed doesn’t need. So does The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber.

In the Boston housing market, more micro units could be on the way.

EDUCATION

The Saugus School Committee raises most athletic fees by $50, which means a student wanting to play football or hockey will pay $400 to play, the Item reports.

Somerset school officials are pointing fingers at each other after an unexpected $250,000 deficit surfaces, the Herald News reports.

It was really only a question of when, not it: The president of the Cambridge-based American Academy of Arts and Sciences is quitting following revelations that she inflated her resume

HEALTH CARE

Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker pan Obamacare in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, while Paul Krugman argues that the GOP offensive is a sign of a “horrible truth,” that “health care reform, President Obama’s signature policy achievement, is probably going to work.”

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Overflows at a sewage treatment plant in North Andover along the Merrimack River suggest officials at the facility were unprepared for such situations, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Somerset officials are preparing for a large protest this Sunday at the coal-fired Brayton Point Power Station, the Herald News reports. Meanwhile, the Planning Board in Salem approves a proposal to replace its coal-fired power plant with a gas-fired facility but sets a whole host of conditions on the redevelopment project, the Salem News reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A 28-year-old man being held and charged in two South Boston stabbing incidents is a “person of interest” in the killing of 24-year-old Amy Lord. Specialists say Lord may have been too traumatized to try to escape from her killer, despite what appears from surveillance video to be opportunities to try to do so.

Newly released surveillance video from his North Attleborough home appears to show Aaron Hernandez holding a gun not long after the June 27 killing of Odin Lloyd.

A Wall Street Journal editorial criticizes attempts to repeal New York’s controversial stop and frisk policy.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

MEDIA

CommonWealth offers scuttlebutt on the upcoming sale of the Boston Globe, including news that a move away from Morrissey Boulevard could be in the works.