Italian police nab anti-corruption businessman they say pocketed a $110,000 payoff

Italian police have arrested an anti-corruption crusader for allegedly pocketing 100,000 euros ($110,000) he demanded to allow a pastry shop to operate at Palermo's airport.

Palermo Chamber of Commerce president Roberto Helg was "caught red-handed" taking some of the payoff in cash and the rest as a check, according to Carabinieri paramilitary police Col. Salvatore Altavilla.

Altavilla said Tuesday that a pastry-maker seeking to renew his lease at the airport told police that Helg, who also is part of the airport's management company, had asked for a payoff. Police surveillance monitored the appointment when the shop owner was to make payment.

A few months ago, Helg decried corruption while serving on a panel for an anti-corruption conference.

Business owners say payoffs are often sought to streamline Italian bureaucracy.