ITALY: The Montesi Affair

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Twice after their breakup, she suspected Ugo of plotting to kill her. Worried, she went to Rome's district attorney, Dr. Angelo Sigurani. She told him all she knew. She told him that she suspected Ugo Montagna of running a narcotics ring, of his frequent trips to visit the commanders of such ports as Genoa and Naples. Said La Caglio: "Sigurani listened very carefully, patted me on the shoulder and advised me to keep out of these things, and the sooner the better." Two weeks ago Dr. Sigurani tried to get the case dropped because investigation showed "the complete absence of a basis for any new charges." La Caglio wrote anxiously to the Pope, warning him that there were people around him that might do him harm. Then somehow the carabinièri, who are separate from the police and sometimes their rivals, got wind of Anna Maria's worries. On the order of the then Acting Premier, Amintore Fanfani, Anna Maria returned to Rome, told her story to the carabinièri, and they began an investigation of Ugo Montagna.

Enter the Carabinièri. Up to then, the charges had been the word of Anna Maria Caglio, a woman scorned, against that of the wealthy Marchese Montagna. But now the court demanded the carabinièri report. It was a bombshell.

Ugo Montagna, it reported, was the son of poor Sicilian parents, spent the '30s shuttling between Rome and Sicily and being charged with various offenses ranging from passing bad checks to printing cards identifying himself falsely as a lawyer or accountant. He always got off without a day in jail. By 1940 he had settled in Rome with the means and habits of a multimillionaire. During Mussolini days he had a house "where he frequently invited women of doubtful morality, with the apparent aim of satisfying the libidinous desires of many high-ranking personalities." With the German occupation, his guests were Nazi officials. Without embarrassment he switched to British and U.S. officers after the liberation. He was also, said the report, a black-marketeer, a spy for the Nazis and "a notorious agent" for OVRA (Fascist Italy's Gestapo).

For all his wealth, he paid taxes on a declared income of only about $1,000 a year, little more than he was said to have given La Caglio each month. One of Montagna's partners in business, said the report, was the son of Giuseppe Spataro, vice president of the Christian Democratic Party. The report also confirmed that Piccioni's son was a close friend of Montagna, as were the Vatican physician and other lay Vatican and government officials.

Such was the man who moved in Rome's most select circles, who addressed the national chief of police Tommaso Pavone with the intimate "tu." Many of those who originally doubted La Caglio's story changed their minds. The Communists promptly trumpeted the fact that Scelba and Montagna had both been witnesses at the wedding of Spataro's son two years ago, pointed out that Scelba himself had appointed Pavone chief of police.

Symbol of Sickness. Almost forgotten were Editor Muto and Wilma Montesi. The picture that all fixed on with fascinated horror was of Ugo Montagna and his connections, a symbol of all that was sick about postwar Italy.

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