Aaron Bunch Journalist with Australian Associated Press | Collection of published work | + 61 484 008 119 | abunch@aap.com.au

Aaron Bunch
Jail for corrupt Ex-Qld mayor

Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale has been jailed for at least 27 months’ imprisonment for corruption and sexually assaulting a woman in his mayoral chambers.

September 30, 2020

A Queensland judge has slammed a former mayor for disgracefully abusing his position to prey on a young woman and undermining the integrity of local government.

Paul Pisasale is already in prison for extortion after posing as a private investigator to help a prostitute friend.

He will now spend at least 27 months behind bars after pleading guilty to official corruption, accepting a secret commission, fraud, perjury, unlawful drug possession and two counts of sexual assault.

The 69-year-old on Wednesday was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years’ imprisonment – eligible for parole in October 2022 – for 35 offences stemming from his time in office.

The popular former politician, once known as “Mr Ipswich”, admitted forcibly kissing and touching a 23-year-old woman in his mayoral chambers at the Ipswich City Council in December 2016.

“You preyed upon an innocent young woman subjecting to your unwanted advances,” Judge Dennis Lynch said.

“This conduct was persistent and involved an abuse of the authority of your position as mayor for your own sexual satisfaction.”

Pisasale promised to help the woman’s career before luring her to the council building where he dressed her in his mayoral robes, photographed and assaulted her.

The official corruption charge relates to Pisasale agreeing to champion a Yamanto real estate project while mayor by influencing council workers and contractors.

He was promised millions of dollars if sales went ahead as planned, but instead he received the services of escorts and over $4000 in cash.

The secret commission charge follows Pisasale corruptly accepting $28,500 from a property developer after helping to push a development approval through council.

“Each of these offences involves calculated dishonesty in betrayal of your position,” Judge Lynch said of the corruption and secret commission charges.

“These offences undermine the integrity of our system of local government.”

Pisasale appeared in Ipswich District Court court via video-link and sat motionless in prison greens as Judge Lynch handed down the sentence.

He was also sentenced for disobedience to statute law and unlawfully possessing two bottles of an erectile dysfunction drug, which is often sold under the brand name Viagra.

The perjury conviction followed a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation that started in October 2017.

Pisasale gave false testimony at a CCC hearing about carrying packages from interstate for barrister Sam Di Carlo.

A raft of fraud charges relate to Ipswich City Council property and money.

Pisasale had his assistant deposit $26,000 in donations into a personal bank account instead of disbursing it to the intended beneficiaries.

“The misuse of these funds was a gross abuse of your position as a trusted leader of the Ipswich community,” Judge Lynch said.

Pisasale also pocketed $55,000 worth of tools that were supposed to be donated to local men’s sheds

He spent $4322 of council money to travel to concerts in Sydney and Melbourne.

“This dishonest conduct was a cynical exploitation of your position engaged in purely for your own financial enrichment,” Judge Lynch said.

Pisasale also applied to his own use charity auction items, including sporting memorabilia, a barbecue, kitchen appliances, artwork, photographs, decorative items and whiskey.

Judge Lynch said he had difficulty reconciling Pisasale’s “charitable conduct and compassion toward the disadvantaged with (his) disgraceful calculated exploitation”.

“Your shameless self-promotion saw $53,127 of council funds spent on items at auctions, some of which you put to your own benefit,” he said.

Pisasale was previously credited with the “renaissance” of Ipswich while mayor from 2004 to 2017, when he resigned following a CCC raid at his office and home.

He was previously sentenced to two years’ prison, suspended after 12 months, after he was convicted of extortion in 2019.

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