An ex-school principal has received a good behaviour bond over a scheme to defraud Victoria’s Education Department, after he agreed to give evidence against a former department official accused of pocketing taxpayer dollars.
Michael Giulieri, 63, has been convicted of conspiracy to attempt to pervert the course of justice and making a false statement to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).
The former principal of Keilor Heights Primary School, in Melbourne’s north-west, pleaded guilty to being a peripheral player in the major fraud which netted more than $1 million.
The County Court heard Giulieri was a long-time friend of Nino Napoli, who was a senior Education Department official responsible for the administration of $5 million of its budget.
An IBAC investigation launched in 2013 revealed Giulieri had agreed to legitimise fraudulent payments made to Napoli’s family members for goods and services that were never provided, the court was told.
The court heard that, in 2014, Giulieri wrote a letter testifying that Napoli’s son had developed a physical fitness program at his former school, Essendon North Primary, costing $30,000.
Napoli also asked him to have one of his other family members make a promotional video for Keilor Heights Primary School to cover a payment for IT services that had never been delivered, the court heard.
IBAC bugged Napoli’s house and recorded conversations between the men discussing the plan.
Napoli and four others were also charged by IBAC and are yet to face a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
Role in scheme ‘somewhat bizarre’
Department official Nino Napoli asked Giuleri to legitimise fraudulent payments, the court heard. (ABC News: Guy Stayner, file photo)
Giulieri lied to IBAC investigators in an initial attempt to cover up the scam, but admitted he had acted corruptly once confronted with evidence.
In sentencing Giulieri to a two-year good behaviour bond, Judge Irene Lawson said Giulieri hadn’t gained anything from the agreement.
“You actively participated in Napoli’s scheme to create a false story,” she said.
“It seems somewhat inexplicable and bizarre seeing you had nothing to gain.”
The court heard Giulieri had agreed to assist investigators and give evidence against Napoli.
Judge Lawson found his offending was incongruous with Giulieri’s otherwise good values and significant contribution to the community over many years as principal of several schools.
“Sadly your decades of work … have been stripped away by reason of you agreeing to enter into this criminal activity,” she said.
Giulieri was dismissed from his role as principal of Keilor Heights Primary School and is now retired.