Prosecutions

2015 cases

Case: Inspectorate v Chris Smith

Local Government Area: Colac Otway Shire council
Venue: Colac Magistrates Court
Judgement date: 18 December 2015

Brief summary of facts

Mr Smith pleaded not guilty to seven charges of conflict of interest and one charge of failure to submit an ordinary return under section 79 and 80A of the Local Government Act.

Ruling

All charges dismissed.

Case: Inspectorate v Ian Robertson

Local Government Area: Central Goldfields Shire Council
Venue: Maryborough Magistrates Court
Judgement date: 12 May 2015

Brief summary of facts

Cr Robertson was charged under section 79 of the Local Government Act for failing to declare a conflict of interest. Cr Robertson was charged with allegedly voting on the 2012/13 Budget when he would have been aware of a potential conflict of interest related to his previous court costs being covered in a budget allocation.

Ruling

Cr Robertson pleaded guilty to the charge. Case proven with no conviction recorded and no fine imposed.

Case: Inspectorate v Marleine Raffoul

Local Government Area: Moreland City Council
Venue: Broadmeadows Magistrate Court
Judgement date: 29 January 2015

Brief summary of facts

Ms Raffoul was charged under section 59 of the Local Government Act. Candidate allegedly offered women free mammograms to women on "how to vote card" during the 2012 election.

Ruling

Magistrate was not satisfied that, on a point of law, the prosecution did not have a case to answer, although he found the case to be factually correct. Inspectorate ordered to pay costs.

2014 Cases

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Graeme Pittock

Local Government Area: Mornington Peninsula Shire Council
Venue: Frankston Magistrates Court
Judgement date: 27 September 2014

Brief summary of facts

Mr Pittock was charged under section 79 of the Local Government Act for failing to declare a conflict of interest in three council meetings. The charges related to non-delcaration of the conflict of interest at Council Meetings in 2012 on 19 March, 12 June and 18 June.

Ruling

Cr Pittock was found guilty and ordered to pay $4000 and prosecution costs. No conviction was recorded.

Case: Inspectorate v Paul Rumpf

Local Government Area: Melton City Council
Venue: Sunshine Magistrates Court
Judgement date: 31 March 2014

Brief summary of facts

Mr Rumpf pleaded not guilt to a charge under section 62 of the Local Government Act for failing to submit a campaign donation return disclosing all donations of $200 or above. Forms must be submitted to the council CEO within 60 days of the election date.

Ruling

The Magistrate indicated to Mr Rumpf that the offence is a strict liability offence and found the charge proven. Mr Rumpf was placed on a good behaviour bond for 12 months and was ordered to pay $500 in costs.

2013 Cases

Case: Inspectorate v Shane Carson

Local Government Area: Wodonga Rural City Council
Venue: Wodonga Magistrates Court
Judgement date: 11 January 2013

Brief summary of facts

Mr Carson was charged under section 62 of the Local Government Act for failing to submit a campaign donation return disclosing all donations of $200 or above. The charge was proven on the basis that Mr Carson acknowledged that he received two reminder letters (one from LGICI on 25/01/2013 warning of potential prosecution) but took no action to ascertain that his return was received by the CEO of Council.

Ruling

Mr Carson was released on an undertaking to provide his return personally to the CEO by1 February 2014 and ordered to pay costs of $6302 by 1 December 2014.

Case: Inspectorate v Grant Smith

Local Government Area: Bass Coast Shire Council
Venue: Wonthaggi Magistrates Court
Judgement date: 8 November 2013

Brief summary of facts

Mr Smith was charged under section 62 of the Local Government Act for failing to submit a campaign donation return disclosing all donations of $200 or above. Forms must be submitted to the council CEO within 60 days of the election date. Mr Smith submitted his return dated 01/11/2013 to the prosecutor. The Return was posted to Bass Coast Council on 15/11/2013.

Ruling

Mr Smith was fined $750 without conviction and ordered to pay costs of $1000.

Case: Inspectorate v Mike Tyler

Local Government Area: Casey City Council
Venue: Dandenong Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 22 October 2013

Brief summary of facts

Mr Tyler was charged with two breaches of the Local Government Act 1989 for allegedly failing to disclose a conflict of interest to the mayor in writing – as required under section 80B(2) of the Act - and to notify the council of the conflict of interest at the earliest possible ordinary council meeting.

Ruling

Mr Tyler received a 12 month good behaviour bond without conviction and was ordered to pay $1000 to a charity and $9000 in costs.

Case: Inspectorate v Perla Padayachee

Local Government Area: Casey City Council
Venue: Dandenong Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 27 August 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate failed to submit Campaign Donation Return within 60 days of the 2012 election.

Ruling

Without conviction issued a good behaviour bond for 12 months and ordered to pay $1472 in costs.

Case: inspectorate v Robert Hughes

Local Government Area: Maroondah City Council
Venue: Ringwood Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 15 August 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate failed to submit Campaign Donation Return within 60 days of the 2012 election.

Ruling

Convicted, fined $1000 and ordered to pay $500 in costs.

Case: Inspectorate v Nicholas Angelowitsch

Local Government Area: Wyndham City Council
Venue: Werribee Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 13 August 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate failed to submit Campaign Donation Return within 60 days of the 2012 election.

Ruling

Without conviction fined $400 and ordered to pay $1000 in costs.

Case: Inspectorate v Lehi Cerna-ortiz

Local Government Area: Casey City Council
Venue: Dandenong Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 1 August 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate failed to submit Campaign Donation Return within 60 days of the 2012 election.

Ruling

Without conviction fined $500 and ordered to pay $1800 costs.

Case: Inspectorate v Roona Fazal

Local Government Area: Casey City Council
Venue: Dandenong Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 1 August 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate failed to submit Campaign Donation Return within 60 days of the 2012 election.

Ruling

Fined $500 without conviction.

Case: Inspectorate v David Muscat

Local Government Area: Manningham City Council
Venue: Ringwood Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 31 July 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate allegedly nominated for Council despite having an earlier conviction which makes him ineligible to nominate for Council.

Ruling

Guilty of unlawful nomination (being a person who is not qualified to be a candidate or is not capable becoming a Councillor, submitted a nomination form contrary to section 52(1) of the Local Government Act 1989 (Act) ).

Was fined $15,000 and required to pay prosecution costs of $9900 (he was granted a stay of six months for payment).

Case: Inspectorate v Lawry Borgelt

Local Government Area: Moorabool Shire Council
Venue: Bacchus Marsh Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 19 July 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate failed to submit Campaign Donation return within 60 days of the 2012 election.

Ruling

Convicted, fined $500 and ordered to pay $500 costs.

Case: Inspectorate v Mohamed Elrafihi

Local Government Area: Moreland City Council
Venue: Heidelberg Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 15 July 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate failed to submit Campaign Donation Return within 60 days of 2012 election.

Ruling

Fined $500 without conviction.

Case: Inspectorate v Jocelyn Ouaida

Local Government Area: Moreland City Council
Venue: Heidelberg Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 15 July 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate failed to submit Campaign Donation Return within 60 days of 2012 election.

Ruling

Without conviction ordered to perform 20 hours of community work within six months and file Campaign Donation Return within 14 days.

Case: Inspectorate v Jason Evans

Local Government Area: Port Phillip City Council
Venue: Melbourne Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 2 July 2013

Brief summary of facts

Candidate failed to submit Campaign Donation Return within 60 days of the 2012 election.

Ruling

Fined without conviction $1,000 and ordered to pay $500 costs.

2012 Cases

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Shirley Cornish

Local Government Area: Moonee Valley City Council
Venue: Broadmeadows Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 21 December 2012

Brief summary of facts

Councillor Shirley Cornish pleaded guilty to charge of misuse of position by approving unauthorised payments and contract variations to former CEO, who is now subject to an investigation by Victoria Police.

Ruling

Pleaded guilty and received 12 month Good Behaviour Bond and ordered to pay $8000 to LGICI.

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Paul Giuliano

Local Government Area: Moonee Valley City Council
Venue: Broadmeadows Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 21 December 2012

Brief summary of facts

Councillor Paul Giuliano pleaded guilty to charge of misuse of position by approving unauthorised payments and contract variations to former CEO, who is now subject to an investigation by Victoria Police.

Ruling

Pleaded guilty and received 12 month Good Behaviour Bond and ordered to pay $1000 to Court Fund and $5000 costs.

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Ian Robertson

Local Government Area: Central Goldfields Shire Council
Venue: Maryborough Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 22 August 2012

Brief summary of facts

Councillor Ian Robertson was charged with two counts of breaching the conflict of interest provisions of the Local Government Act. The breaches related to his lobbying and support for a significant road upgrade and paving project that effectively serviced his rural property. Both charges were proven and Councillor Robertson found guilty with the Magistrate noting the seriousness of the matters and the intent of the laws to ensure the holders of public office do not seek to advantage themselves in the exercise of their role. Based on evidence of good character and community service, the Magistrate did not record a conviction against Councillor Robertson.

Ruling

Councillor Robertson was found guilty of two counts of conflict of interest and placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond. No conviction was recorded and he was ordered to pay a $4000 donation to Maryborough Hospital and pay the prosecution costs of $20,000.

Case: Inspectorate v Milvan Muto

Local Government Area: Greater Shepparton City Council
Venue: Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
Judgment date: 21 August 2012

Brief summary of facts

The Inspectorate, through the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Community Development, sought an order from VCAT that Milvan Muto take a mandatory leave of absence (suspension) from the office of councillor.

This was under the provision that he has been charged with the serious criminal offence of Blackmail by Victoria Police. In separate proceedings at VCAT the Inspectorate has also sought to have a finding of Gross Misconduct made against Mr Muto. The criminal Blackmail charges relate to witnesses in this separate matter.

Ruling

Mr Muto is required to take a mandatory leave of absence from the role of councillor until the criminal charge of Blackmail is determined. Effective immediately.

Case: Inspectorate v Gerrit Schorel-Hlavka

Local Government Area: Banyule City Council
Venue: Heidelberg Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 31 July 2012

Date of appeal: Yet to be determined

Brief summary of facts

Unsuccessful candidate Schorel-Hlavka was charged under section 62 of the Local Government Act 1989 for failing to submit a campaign donation return form disclosing all donations of $200 or above. Forms must be submitted to the council CEO within 60 days of the election date. Mr Schorel-Hlavka contested the charge and was found guilty with a conviction recorded.

Ruling

Found guilty with conviction and fined $400 plus costs. Mr Schorel-Hlavka lodged an appeal against sentence and conviction with an appeal date yet to be determined.

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Belinda Clarkson

Local Government Area: Nillumbik Shire Council
Venue: Heidelberg Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 15 June 2012

Brief summary of facts

Nillumbik Shire Councillor Belinda Clarkson was charged with two counts of breaching the conflict of interest provisions of the Local Government Act 1989 over failing to declare a conflict and leave the meetings where she was the subject of the matter before council. The matter was dealt with by way of a contested hearing at the Magistrates Court where the Magistrate agreed there was a case to answer but, based on a legal interpretation, ultimately found in favour of Councillor Clarkson and the charges were dismissed.

Ruling

Finding of not guilty.

2011 Cases

Case: Inspectorate V Cr Andrea Marian

Local Government Area: Ararat Rural City Council
Venue: Ararat Magistrates Court
Judgment date: 19 December 2011
Date of appeal: 23 August 2012

Brief summary of facts

Ararat Rural City Councillor Andrea Marian pleaded guilty to three Conflict of Interest charges with the more serious charge of misuse of position withdrawn. The Magistrate found that 'contraventions constituted a fundamental failure of her duties as a councillor and those that she represents.' The charges resulted from Councillor Marian making submissions on behalf of clients from her private business in matters that were before council.

Ruling

Convicted on three counts of breaching the Conflict of Interest provisions and fined an aggregate of $10,000 plus costs. Councillor Marian appealed severity of sentence and that appeal was heard on 23 August 2012. The conviction was upheld on all three counts of conflict of interest. The fine of $10,000 stands and in addition Marian is required to pay prosecution costs and is disqualified from nominating or acting as a councillor for 7 years.

Of Marian's actions, Judge Sue Pullen said '...I don't know how it could have crossed your mind that was an appropriate way to conduct yourself as a councillor'.

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Lisa Price

Local Government Area: Latrobe City Council
Venue: Latrobe Magistrates' Court
Judgment date: 13 May 2011
Date of appeal: 24 October 2011

Brief summary of facts

Latrobe City Councillor Lisa Price was found guilty on two counts of failing to declare interest under section 79 of the Local Government Act 1989 (Act) and one count under section 80A. Cr Price was convicted and disqualified from acting as a councillor for seven years and fined $9000 plus costs. Cr Price appealed the decision.

At appeal, Cr Price pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to declare an interest under section 79 of the Act. The charge under section 80A was dropped. The sentence was reduced to a 12 month good behaviour bond. No conviction was recorded and Cr Price was allowed to continue to act as a councillor.

Ruling

Pleaded guilty to two counts and put on a 12 month good behaviour bond. No conviction was recorded.

Case: Inspectorate v John Rickard

Local Government Area: Casey City Council
Venue: Dandenong Magistrates' Court
Judgment date: 30 September 2011

Brief summary of facts

Unsuccessful Casey City Council 2008 election candidate John Rickard pleaded guilty to breaching section 62 of the Local Government Act 1989 for failing to submit a campaign donation return form disclosing all donations of $200 or above. Forms must be submitted within 60 days of the election date to the council CEO. Mr Rickard acknowledged the breach and an attempt was made to address the matter through the Criminal Justice Diversion Program however, failure to meet requirements resulted in court proceedings. Mr Rickard pleaded guilty, was ordered to complete and submit the form and pay $1200 in fines and costs.

Ruling

Pleaded guilty. Ordered to submit completed form and pay $1200 in fines and costs without conviction.

Case: Inspectorate v Tran Siu

Local Government Area: Brimbank City Council
Venue: Sunshine Magistrates' Court
Judgment date: 5 September 2011

Brief summary of facts

On 5 September 2011 former Brimbank councillor Tran Siu pleaded guilty in Sunshine Magistrates' Court to printing and distributing an unregistered how-to-vote card and providing false or misleading information to the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate. The offences were breaches of section 56 and 223C of the Local Government Act 1989 respectively. Mr Siu had initially pleaded not guilty but, in the face of compelling evidence, changed his plea to guilty.

Ruling

Pleaded guilty and convicted of both charges. Disqualified from acting as a councillor for seven years and ordered to pay $11,500 in fines and costs.

2010 Cases

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Tas Athanasopoulos

Local Government Area: Stonnington City Council
Venue: Victorian Supreme Court
Judgment date: 8 December 2010

Brief summary of facts

It was alleged that Cr Athanasopoulos was ineligible to stand for re-election in 2008 because he did not hold a valid entitlement to be enrolled as a voter in the City of Stonnington as at 3 October 2008 (the entitlement date). The Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate attempted to invoke section 67 of the Local Government Act 1989 to oust Cr Athanasopoulos from office.

Ruling

Justice Hargrave found in favour of Cr Athanasopoulos who was permitted to continue as a councillor.

Case: Inspectorate v Zachary Giblett

Local Government Area: Melton Shire Council
Venue: Melton Magistrates' Court
Judgment date: 7 December 2010

Brief summary of facts

Unsuccessful Melton Shire Council 2008 election candidate Zachary Giblett pleaded guilty to breaching section 62 of the Local Government Act 1989 for failing to submit a campaign donation return form disclosing all donations of $200 or above. Forms must be submitted within 60 days of the election date to the council CEO. The matter was proven and dealt with via the Criminal Justice Diversion Program.

Ruling

Matter proven without conviction. Ordered to pay $100 to court fund and required to complete and submit their campaign donation return form to council.

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Susan Nichols

Local Government Area: Mildura Rural City Council
Venue: Mildura Magistrates' Court
Judgment date: 10 June 2010

Brief summary of facts

Mildura Rural City Council Deputy Mayor, Councillor Susan Nichols, pleaded guilty to breaching section 81(7)a of the Local Government Act 1989 for failing to disclose on return documents her position as councillor for Wentworth Shire Council in NSW. No conviction was recorded.

Ruling

Pleaded guilty and placed on a 6 month good behaviour bond without conviction.

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Mark Eckel

Local Government Area: Mildura Rural City Council
Venue: Mildura Magistrates' Court
Judgment date: 6 May 2010

Brief summary of facts

Mildura Rural City Councillor Mark Eckel pleaded guilty to breaching section 81(7)a of the Local Government Act 1989 for failing to disclose that he was Vice President of Sunraysia Community Radio Association on return documents. Cr Eckel also worked as a paid radio announcer for the Association. No conviction was recorded.

Ruling

Pleaded guilty. Ordered to pay $3000 in fines and costs and placed on a 6 month good behaviour bond without conviction.

Case: Inspectorate v Cr David Saunderson

Local Government Area: City of Greater Geelong Council
Venue: Geelong Magistrates' Court
Judgment date: 21 January 2010

Brief summary of facts

City of Greater Geelong Councillor David Saunderson was found guilty and convicted of failing to declare a conflict of interest under section 79 of the Local Government Act 1989. Cr Saunderson voted on a matter involving supermarket developer Lascorp which had donated to his 2004 election campaign. He did not declare the interest. In 2007 Cr Saunderson was found guilty and convicted of failing to declare a donation from Lascorp in his campaign donation return.

Ruling

Found guilty and convicted. Disqualified from acting as a councillor for seven years and ordered to pay $18,000 in fines and costs.

2009 Cases

Case: Inspectorate v Cr Cameron Granger

Local Government Area: City of Greater Geelong Council
Venue: Geelong Magistrates' Court
Judgment date: 12 August 2009

Brief summary of facts

City of Greater Geelong Councillor Cameron Granger was found guilty of failing to declare a conflict of interest under section 79 of the Local Government Act 1989. Cr Granger voted in favour of a planning application from a developer who had donated to his 2008 election campaign. He did not declare the interest.

Ruling

Guilty without conviction and ordered to pay $4000 in fines and costs.

Criminal justice diversions

Case: Inspectorate v unsuccessful candidate

Local Government Area: Whittlesea Shire Council
Venue: Heidelberg Magistrates' Court
Diversion date: Diversion entered into on 18 July 2011

 

Brief summary of facts

An unsuccessful Whittlesea Shire Council 2008 election candidate admitted guilt for failing to submit a campaign donation return form disclosing all donations of $200 or above, a breach of section 62 of the Local Government Act 1989. Forms must be submitted within 60 days of the election date to the council CEO. The matter was proven and dealt with via the Criminal Justice Diversion Program.

Ruling

Matter proven without conviction. Ordered to pay $250 to court fund, required to complete and submit their campaign donation return form to council and a written apology to the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate.

Case: Inspectorate v unsuccessful candidate

Local Government Area: Maroondah City Council
Venue: Ringwood Magistrates' Court
Diversion date: Diversion entered into on 17 June 2011

Brief summary of facts

An unsuccessful Maroondah City Council 2008 election candidate admitted guilt for failing to submit a campaign donation return form disclosing all donations of $200 or above, a breach of section 62 of the Local Government Act 1989. Forms must be submitted within 60 days of the election date to the council CEO. The matter was proven and dealt with via the Criminal Justice Diversion Program.

Ruling

Matter proven without conviction. Ordered to pay $100 to court fund, required to complete and submit their campaign donation return form to council and a written apology to the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate.

Case: Inspectorate v councillor

Local Government Area: Greater Shepparton City Council
Venue: Shepparton Magistrates' Court
Diversion date: Diversion entered into on 15 April 2011

Brief summary of facts

A City of Greater Shepparton councillor admitted guilt to failing to declare a conflict of interest under section 79 of the Local Government Act 1989. The councillor then voted on the endorsement of a new member of the council's audit committee at the July 2010 ordinary council meeting however, the member is listed on campaign donation returns as a donor to the councillor's election campaign fund. The councillor acknowledged the conflict of interest and the matter was resolved through the Criminal Justice Diversion Program without conviction.

Ruling

Matter proven without conviction. The councillor was fined $500 payable to the Shepparton Hospital oncology ward.

Case: Inspectorate v unsuccessful candidate

Local Government Area: Latrobe City Council
Venue: Latrobe Magistrates' Court
Diversion date: Diversion entered into on 1 March 2011

Brief summary of facts

An unsuccessful Latrobe City Council 2008 election candidate admitted guilt for failing to submit a campaign donation return form disclosing all donations of $200 or above, a breach of section 62 of the Local Government Act 1989. Forms must be submitted within 60 days of the election date to the council CEO. The matter was proven and dealt with via the Criminal Justice Diversion Program.

Ruling

Matter proven without conviction. Ordered to pay $250 to court fund, required to complete and submit their campaign donation return form to council and a written apology to Latrobe City Council.

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