Rome gardeners used city vehicles and tools for private work.
Nine employees of Rome's park and gardens service have been suspended for one year following a police investigation into abstenteeism, including the practice of clocking-in on behalf of absent colleagues.
Hidden cameras filmed the gardeners using multiple cards to clock in, before disappearing for the day, in a case described by the judge as a "situation of totally anarchy."
In addition to claiming overtime, the gardeners used city vehicles and tools to undertake work in private gardens in the southern suburbs of the capital.
Saying there was "no room for bad apples in Rome", the city's mayor Virginia Raggi said the behaviour of the suspended employees was damaging to the municipal garden service which the city is "trying to lift from the abyss where it has been plunged in the past."
The suspension of the nine gardeners coincides with the city's hiring - for the first time in many years - of 15 new gardeners. In recent years swathes of the city's 44 million sqm of parks and green spaces have become overgrown and abandoned.
Raggi recently announced plans to spend €12 million "restyling" 20 of the capital's parks, historic villas and green areas.
Over a year ago Rome's former environment councillor Pinuccia Montanari suggested using sheep and cows to munch down the city's overgrown green areas.
More recently the parks have also been tended to by prisoners, some of whom discovered a revolver hidden in a hedge in the EUR suburb in April. The gun was promptly handed over to officers overseeing the programme which is carried out in collaboration with Italy's justice ministry.Photo Romah24.com