Bedford drugs family ordered to pay back £340,000

The scales of justice
The scales of justice

A husband and wife who hid thousands of pounds of drugs money by burying it in their Bedford garden have been ordered to pay back more than £300,000.

Police launched an investigation into Domenico Masciopinto’s hidden ill-gotten gains after he was jailed for 14 years in 2012. Officers recovered £270,000 in cash from two addresses in Bedford the following year – with the majority suspected to have previously been hidden in a holdall buried in the garden of the home he shared with his now-separated wife Giulia in Harrowden Road.

She was locked up for nine months last year while her mother Caterina De Filippo and sister Palma De Filippo were each jailed for 12 months for their roles in assisting Domenico Masciopinto to hide the cash.

He was given a further 22 months in prison in connection with the concealment of the cash.

Last week, at Aylesbury Crown Court, all four were ordered to pay back a total of £222,251 following an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) Regional Economic Crime Unit (RECU). That was on top of £121,736 seized from Domenico following the discovery of the stash.

Domenico Masciopinto, 35, was found to have benefited by a further £163,876, Giulia Masciopinto, 38, by £43,886, Palma De Filippo, 29, by £20,150 and Caterina De Filippo, 59, by £13,399.

Domenico Masciopinto’s initial £121,736 benefit order was covered by some of the cash recovered by police from Harrowden Road and Redhall Close in warrants in 2013. The remaining £163,876 he was found to have benefited by will be paid out of the rest of the seized cash.

On top of the seized cash - the three women were found to have benefited from a combined total of £77,000 after analysis of their bank accounts.

Giulia Masciopinto and Caterina De Filippo were ordered to pay back the full amounts, while Palma De Filippo was only found to have realisable assets worth £1,088. However, the benefit figure will remain with her.

Detective Inspector Chris Day, of the RECU, said: “Domenico Masciopinto thought he was above the law and that he could squirrel away his ill-gotten gains for when he was released from prison.

“Not only were all those involved in the hiding that money given prison sentences, and extra time added to Domenico Masciopinto’s original sentence, but we have been able to recover a large amount of cash and also obtain orders on the family members who had used their bank accounts to hide some of his profits.

“This should send a clear message that crime does not pay.”

Before Masciopinto was jailed in 2012, he had already hidden a large amount of cash, thought to have been buried in a garden in Harrowden Road, Bedford.

Once inside he contacted his now-separated wife Giulia Masciopinto. She enlisted her mother Caterina De Filippo and sister Palma De Filippo to help.

Domenico Masciopinto instructed his wife to dig up the money from the garden. She was assisted by her mother and the cash was transferred into a large holdall later recovered from the loft.

Palma De Filippo helped carry out the crime by storing some of the money in the boot of her car. She and her sister also made numerous cash deposits into their bank accounts.

On March 19, 2013, officers carried out search warrants at the home of Guilia Masciopinto in Redhall Close and the Caterina De Filippo’s home in Harrowden Road in Bedford.

They recovered £270,000 in cash in various bags along with mobile phones.

A number of the notes were mouldy and had been placed in freezer bags.

The court heard that Giulia Masciopinto was told to take some of the money for a holiday and her jailed husband also arranged for a Mercedes to be bought for her.