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Prosecutors Seeks Indictment of Sicilian Bishop for Fraud

July 14, 1995

PALERMO, Sicily (AP) _ Prosecutors on Friday sought the indictment of a powerful Sicilian archbishop on fraud charges.

Salvatore Cassisa was accused of extorting kickbacks for restoration work at the cathedral in Monreale, a town of 24,000 just outside Palermo. Cassisa, 72, also was charged with defrauding European Union money earmarked for vineyards on church land.

Cassisa was already under suspicion in a mob case: Authorities say a major Mafia boss used his secretary’s cellular telephone while a fugitive.

The mobster, Leoluca Bagarella, was arrested last month after four years on the run. Cassisa’s secretary, the Rev. Mario Campisi, maintains the cellular phone number was stolen.

The ANSA news agency said Palermo prosecutors were investigating Cassisa for mob links. Neither the prosecutors nor Cassisa could be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

The Monreale cathedral, considered an architectural marvel of the Middle Ages and one of Sicily’s most important Norman churches, went under restoration in 1979 after termites undermined its interior wooden structure. More than $6.2 million has been spent and work continues.

The investigation began with an anonymous tip from within the Monreale archdiocese.

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