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FBI's Medal of Meritorious Achievement Prefetto Giovanni "Gianni" De Gennaro, Chief of the Italian National Police
Prefetto Giovanni "Gianni" De Gennaro, Chief of the Italian National Police

Washington, D.C. December 08, 2006
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

Washington, D.C. – At a ceremony at FBI Headquarters today, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, presented Prefetto Giovanni “Gianni” De Gennaro, Chief of the Italian National Police ("INP") the FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement, recognizing the legendary Italian law enforcement leader for his pioneering efforts in international police cooperation.

FBI Director Mueller said, “Under Prefetto De Gennaro’s leadership, Italy and the United States achieved unprecedented levels of cooperation in the fight against organized crime,” said FBI Director Mueller. “Throughout his law enforcement career, Prefetto De Gennaro has shown great courage in the face of unremitting danger and been a champion of the cause of justice. His efforts have directly contributed to our success in the combating the threat of organized crime.”

Joining Mueller in the ceremony were Louis J. Freeh, Former FBI Director; Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice; Frances Fragos-Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security-Terrorism-White House; Giovanni Castellaneta, Italian Ambassador to the U.S.; Melvin Sembler, Former US Ambassador to Italy; Paul J. McNulty, Deputy Attorney General; James Comey, Former Deputy Attorney General; Alice Fisher, Chief, Department of Justice-Criminal Division; Eugene R. Sullivan, Federal Judge; Roslynn R. Mauskopf, U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of New York; Joseph Guccione, U.S. Marshall; and, Thomas Pickard, Former FBI Acting Director. The event was co-hosted by John S. Pistole, FBI Deputy Director.

The FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement is usually given to FBI personnel who have demonstrated extraordinary actions in times of extreme challenge – and often in the face of grave danger. It is also awarded for exceptional achievements in connection with criminal or national security cases. Today’s presentation represents the first time the Medal of Meritorious Achievement has been awarded to one of our international partners.

Prefetto De Gennaro is recognized around the world as one of the great law enforcement officers of his generation. A pioneer in the global fight against organized criminal groups, his foresight in developing international law enforcement cooperation before technology and terrorism made it a necessity, is remarkable. Prefetto De Gennaro's proactive measures have allowed the FBI to achieve its goals of fighting borderless crime and international terrorism. For more than three decades he has served as an informal advisor for several U. S. Ambassadors to Italy regarding safety, security and other law enforcement matters.

During the FBI's global expansion under former Director Louis J. Freeh, Prefetto De Gennaro has helped to gain the support of his European counterparts regarding working with the FBI. The successful and unprecedented relationship led by Prefetto De Gennaro between the INP and the FBI has not only served as a model for relationships with other international police agencies, but also has helped strengthen the FBI’s Legal Attache expansion in Europe. Based on his experience working with the FBI, Prefetto De Gennaro has said he modeled aspects of the INP's investigative structure after the FBI.

Prefetto De Gennaro has played a key role in some of the most significant international organized crime investigations, most notably the prosecution of approximately 800 people throughout the U. S. and Italy in the "Pizza Connection" and "Iron Tower" investigations. In addition, his efforts have had a major impact on international heroin trafficking and have significantly reduced the Italian influence in the importation of heroin into the U.S. His efforts continue in the joint FBI – INP “Pantheon Project,” wherein FBI Special Agents are operationally detailed to the INP in Rome and an INP Inspector is detailed to FBI Headquarters, in order to combat the continuing relationship between the American LCN and Sicilian Mafia.

As a direct result of Prefetto De Gennaro's achievements he has held a top spot on the Sicilian Mafia's hit list for more then three decades, placing himself and his family in grave danger. During his tenure as the preeminent mafia investigator in Italy, three Chief Anti-Mafia Magistrates (Italian term for Prosecutors) with whom he worked directly were assassinated in succession by the Sicilian Mafia. Also during his tenure, several top Anti-Mafia Investigators were assassinated by the Sicilian Mafia.

Prefetto De Gennaro graduated from the University of Rome, earning a law degree before working at the Italian Treasury Ministry. He began his police career in the provincial headquarters of Alessandria, rising through promotions to the top rank at the Anti-Mafia Investigative Directorate (“DIA”), becoming Italy’s third-ranking law enforcement official. He was promoted to deputy chief of Police and Director of Criminalpol in Rome, then into the Executive Offices of the National Police as Deputy Chief. Prefetto De Gennaro became the Chief the Italian National Police in May of 2000.