Italian conman ‘spends 12 YEARS in a wheelchair to fake disability – and is even granted an audience with the Pope – before being exposed as a £118,000 benefit fraud’

An Italian man faked being disabled for 12 years in order to claim £118,000 in benefits along with special privileges including meeting the Pope, police say.

Roberto Guglielmi, 55, from Florence, pretended to be wheelchair-bound following a car accident in 2007 – but in fact the crash was faked along with his disability, prosecutors say.

Guglielmi even injected his legs with an anesthetic to weaken the muscle tone and underwent painful physical therapy in order to fool doctors, it is alleged. 

Italian conman spends 12 years in a wheelchair to fake disability

Roberto Guglielmi, 55, from Florence, faked a car accident in 2007 to begin claiming disability benefits and then spent 12 years in a wheelchair, police say
Roberto Guglielmi, 55, from Florence, faked a car accident in 2007 to begin claiming disability benefits and then spent 12 years in a wheelchair, police say
While Guglielmi stayed in his chair while he was in Florence, outside of the state where he was not known they say he walked around normally (pictured)
While Guglielmi stayed in his chair while he was in Florence, outside of the state where he was not known they say he walked around normally (pictured)
Investigators also unveiled hidden camera footage which they say proves Guglielmi moved around normally, including in front of his state carer
Investigators also unveiled hidden camera footage which they say proves Guglielmi moved around normally, including in front of his state carer

He was caught on Tuesday at Florence’s international airport returning from a holiday in Togo when authorities say he walked off the plane without assistance.

Police say Guglielmi devised the scheme in 2007 along with his house-mate as a way for the pair to avoid paying rent,reports.

The housemate agreed to fake hitting Guglielmi with his car, who then managed to attain a faked medical certificate saying he was unable to walk.

Investigators say Guglielmi injected his legs with anaesthetic and underwent painful physical therapy in order to deceive doctors
Investigators say Guglielmi injected his legs with anaesthetic and underwent painful physical therapy in order to deceive doctors

As a result he was granted a disability allowance which allowed him to pay an at-home carer, was given a disabled parking bay outside his home and allowed use of disabled parking bays and driving lanes.

Over the years, prosecutors say Guglielmi’s deceptions became more and more extreme as he became a campaigner for disabled rights in local newspapers.

One man even claims that Guglielmi told him that he was a police veteran who was crippled in a shootout with criminals, reports.

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Before he was arrested, the man was even planning to run for elected office, according to the newspaper.

Perhaps his greatest deception came in 2014 when, after writing to the Vatican to explain his story, he was put in contact with Pope Francis.

After a brief correspondence he was granted an audience with Francis the following year and posted images to his Facebook page of the meeting.

He wrote: ‘The sky has reopened for me. I told him my gratitude, he was affectionate. I returned home with joy and with a spirit full of hope.’

Guglielmi is also said to have kept up his deception in front of close friends and acquaintances, who also believed he was disabled. 

Roberto Guglielmi meets Pope Francis
Roberto Guglielmi meets Pope Francis
Roberto Guglielmi and Francis
Roberto Guglielmi and Francis
Guglielmi (pictured before his 'accident') has now been ordered under house arrest while more investigations are carried out
Guglielmi (pictured before his ‘accident’) has now been ordered under house arrest while more investigations are carried out
The 55-year-old was caught on Tuesday this week when he arrived back from a holiday in Togo and walked through the airport without assistance
The 55-year-old was caught on Tuesday this week when he arrived back from a holiday in Togo and walked through the airport without assistance

But prosecutors say that while he maintained this deception in public, at home and while outside of Florence he walked around normally, including in front of his carer.

Hidden camera footage taken by detectives inside Guglielmi’s home appears to show walking around with little difficulty.

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Investigators say they have also interviewed the carer and she has confirmed that Guglielmi’s disability was a con.

He is now being held under house arrest while further investigations are carried out. 

A judge has also raised the prospect of forcing him to pay multiple stays in hospital and private clinics while his disability was being assessed.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6916223/Italian-conman-spends-12-YEARS-wheelchair-fake-disability.html

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