One of the most famous criminal lawyers in the Province of Imperia after the Second World War was undoubtedly the Sanremo lawyer Franco Moreno, who would take part, as counsel, in some of the most important trials held in Western Liguria between the early 1960s and the end of the 1990s, as well as a number of other criminal proceedings of national importance.
Franco Moreno was born in Sanremo on 21 May 1929 to Osvaldo and Eteldreda Porzio.
His father was born in Sanremo on 26 November 1896 and graduated in Law at the University of Turin on 3 February 1920. He worked as a lawyer and was a member of parliament for one legislature, from May 1924 to January 1929. Osvaldo Moreno died in Sanremo on 15 November 1984.
After graduating in Law and obtaining the qualification to practice law, Franco Moreno started working as a lawyer in his home town. The first major trial in which he took part as defence counsel for the main defendant was the one held at the Imperia Court of Assizes in the spring of 1964.
His client, a veterinarian from the province of Novara, was accused of having sent a poisoned bottle of a well-known non-alcoholic drink to the husband of his mistress, who lived in Arma di Taggia, and who, completely unaware of the contents of the bottle, died in terrible pain on the evening of the same day he swallowed the liquid. At first instance, the defendant was convicted of causing the death of his lover's husband "by means of poisonous substances and premeditation".
Following an appeal lodged by his lawyers, on 21 December 1965 the Genoa Court of Assizes sentenced him to life imprisonment, despite the fact that Moreno's lawyer, together with the vet's two co-defendants, Luca Ciurlo and Carlo Torgano, had asked the court in vain to carry out a psychiatric examination of his client.
On 16 October 1967, the conviction was definitively confirmed by the Court of Cassation. After 24 years in prison, the Novara vet, who had always proclaimed his innocence, was pardoned by President Cossiga on 21 November 1986.
On 4 March 1976, Mr Moreno spoke at a conference organised by the Rotary Club of Sanremo to raise the awareness of the local and, in particular, regional authorities of the need to open a branch of the University of Genoa in Sanremo as soon as possible. As is well known, the project Moreno hoped for would only come to fruition in part, many years later, with the inauguration of the University of Imperia in 1992.
In June 1981, he defended the mayor of Sanremo pro tempore against the charge of omission of official acts in the context of the Matuzian Public Prosecutor's Office's investigation into thefts by croupiers at the Sanremo casino. In addition to the city's first citizen, an alderman from the municipal council, the Casino's president and his predecessor were also under investigation. At the end of the trial before the Court of Sanremo, however, the mayor was acquitted of all charges.
In early 1983, together with the Brianza-based lawyer Sergio Carpinelli, he took on the legal representation of the company of a wealthy Milanese businessman who was involved in the bribery scandal at the Matuzian casino.
Another high-profile trial in which Moreno took part was the one for the alleged bribery at the 1989 Festival, which took place in the spring of 1993 at the Sanremo Court. On 10 May 1993, during the trial, Mr Moreno gave a four-hour argument to maintain the innocence of his client, a Matuzian journalist who had been involved as a mediator during the 1989 singing event.
On 21 May 1993, the Court of Sanremo acquitted Mr Moreno's client with a full verdict, along with several other defendants in the trial.
In the summer of 1993, the two lawyers of a well-known businessman, who had been convicted a few months earlier by the Sanremo Court for corruption at the 1989 Song Festival, assigned him the task of listening to the thousands of telephone taps recorded by the magistrates of the Imperia Public Prosecutor's Office on the private line of the manager. After three months, Moreno confirmed to the two lawyers that he had not found a single call that could be linked to the charges against the businessman.
In August 1993, Moreno took on the defence of a well-known restaurateur from Sanremo, who had been the victim of fraud by the former owner of his business.
In the spring of 1994, he defended a Sanremo man accused of extortion against a notary public in Alba in connection with the Menton Casino takeover scandal. Moreno's client was convicted in the first instance by the Court of Alba, but acquitted in the second instance in May 1996 by the Court of Appeal of Turin because the fact did not exist.
In the spring of 1996, lawyer Moreno took on the defence of a Sanremo doctor working with some of his colleagues at a hospital in the province, accused of having defrauded the Sanremo Local Health Unit by requesting a series of "inflated" reimbursements for a well-known medicine. At the end of the trial before the Court of Sanremo, all the professionals were acquitted "for not having committed the fact".
In October 1996, Moreno also defended another doctor from Sanremo against charges of drug dealing and extortion through the prescription of a drug to drug addicts, which, according to the Ministry of Health, was a real drug.
In March 1998, lawyer Moreno, together with his brother Fausto, defended a well-known local professional accused of being jointly responsible for the scandal that led to the section of the Aurelia bis road being built over the graves of the Valle Armea cemetery. In his plea before the judges of the Court of Imperia, Moreno reiterated that his client was totally extraneous to the charges, since he had only been a "technical intermediary" between the Municipality, the Autostrada dei Fiori and the designers and had not played any role in the "hijacking" of the road at the centre of the judicial enquiry. In any case, at the end of the hearing, the professional defended by the Moreno brothers was acquitted of all charges.
A few months before his death, in the autumn of 1999, before falling seriously ill, he would still be in time to take part in the hearings of the second-degree trial, before the Court of Assizes of Appeal of Genoa, as the lawyer of some croupiers of the Casino of Sanremo involved in the investigation of the Public Prosecutor's Office of Matuzia on the thefts that took place at the green tables of the Sanremo casino.
In the course of his career, Mr Moreno held important positions at the top of local legal associations. On 1 August 1996 he was elected president of the Sanremo Criminal Chamber, remaining in office until 1998, when he was succeeded by the lawyer Marco Bosio of Ventimiglia. Lawyer Moreno was assisted by lawyer Evelina Cristel as vicar, Marco Bosio and Andrea Rovere as vice-presidents, lawyer Ersilia Ferrante as treasurer and lawyer Eugenio Aluffi as secretary.
From June 1962 to October 1978 he also served as President of the Sanremo Pro Infantia Institute and as President of the Civil Hospital of the City of Flowers with a great sense of responsibility and the sole concern of always guaranteeing the best possible care for all citizens.
During his term of office, it is worth mentioning the speech he made during a round table at the "Almerini" Club of Sanremo in February 1973, in the presence of the Regional Councillor for Finance and the Mayor of the City of Flowers, in which he complained that the hospital facilities on the Riviera were not able to provide adequate medical assistance to elderly and non-self-sufficient people. In November 1975, he wrote to the regional health authorities to oppose the decision of the Liguria Region to close the del Castillo children's hospital because of suspected cases of salmonellosis.
Franco Moreno was a great lover of sport, so much so that he is remembered for having founded, in 1958, together with other illustrious personalities of the time such as Adriano Morosetti, Roberto Gaglio and Giuseppe Mussa, the Panathlon Club Imperia-Sanremo, with the aim of spreading the values of sport as an instrument for the enhancement of the person and a vehicle for solidarity between men and the peoples of the earth.
Mr Moreno was also a member for many years of the Sanremo Lions Club, of which he would also serve as president.
He had a prestigious office in the centre of Rome and dealt with important trials at national level. Among the latter, it is worth mentioning at least the one against one of the most famous forgers of De Chirico, whose defence he took on towards the end of the 1970s, and about whom he is said to have given a television interview aired on the third network of the RAI in a programme dedicated to the scandal of art galleries and forgeries.
Shy by nature to the worldly, he loved to spend his free time with his family in a flat he had bought on the Côte d'Azur.
After being admitted to the "Borea" hospital of Sanremo due to a worsening of his state of health, the lawyer Franco Moreno died in the morning of 25 September 1999 at the age of 70, leaving behind his wife and two children.
With the death of lawyer Moreno, which followed a little more than a week after that of another great protagonist of the Sanremo Court, lawyer Natale De Francisi, a historical figure of the Sanremo Court, who had made the analysis of the law the centre of his life and had dedicated his whole life to his work, would have died.
His funeral was held on 27 September in the church of San Rocco, officiated by Don Contardo Colombi. A large crowd of friends, colleagues and magistrates came to pay their last respects. His body was buried in the family tomb at the Foce monumental cemetery.
(source: taken from the text by Andrea Gandolfo)