Paul Pisasale pleads guilty to corruption, sexual assault

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Paul Pisasale pleads guilty to corruption, sexual assault

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Paul Pisasale pleads guilty to corruption, sexual assault
4-5 minutes

Disgraced former mayor Paul Pisasale has told a court his behaviour was “out of control” after he entered pleas of guilty to a raft of criminal charges, including sexual assault and corruption.

Once Queensland’s most popular figures in local government, the now former mayor of Ipswich entered shock pleas to the charges just a week before he was due to stand trial.

A packed gallery filled Ipswich District Court on Thursday morning as Pisasale, 69, sat in the dock with his head down.

Pisasale entered pleas of guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one count each of official corruption, disobedience of statute law and possessing a restricted drug while he was mayor.

He became emotional as he told the court he had started with a strong vision for Ipswich but that had turned into “self-absorption, obsession and a lack of judgment”.

Reading from a letter penned to the court, he said he intended to make amends for his actions and was sorry for letting everyone down.

“My behaviour was out of control, I wanted more and more for Ipswich and my popularity,” Pisasale said.

“My life became a blur.

“I am not a bad person, but I have made some very bad decisions that attempted to help, but ended up hurting many.”

Last month, he pleaded guilty to more than 30 offences, including fraud, perjury, receipt of a secret commission by agent and official corruption but that move was not made public because of a court suppression order.

Thursday’s pleas in open court mean that suppression order previously imposed by the court has been lifted.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Farnden briefly detailed the complex web of frauds and corrupt conduct that led to Pisasale’s downfall.

She said all the offences arose out of a crime and corruption investigation into the council by the state corruption watchdog, which commenced in October 2017.

“During the course of the investigation, the defendant and others had their telephones intercepted,” Ms Farnden said.

The Crime and Corruption Commission’s investigation eventually led to the dissolution of Ipswich Council in August 2018.

Ms Farnden said many of the frauds related to the “exploitation and manipulation” of council policies to purchase items at auctions.

“The facts involve the defendant not only purchasing auction items for himself but also, on occasion, bidding on items and then procuring other councillors to submit false forms,” she said.

Donations totalling some $26,000 were deposited into Pisasale’s personal bank account by his assistant.

“Any protest was simply shrugged off as if it was common knowledge,” Ms Farnden said.

The sexual assaults were committed against a woman in the council building on December 9, 2016.

Ms Farnden said the woman had not recovered from the incidents and now had “physical reactions” to seeing news of Pisasale or men of similar ages or appearances.

Other details about Pisasale’s conduct were revealed, including his corrupt dealings with a developer on a project in Yamanto between October 2016 and June 2017 and a secret commissions charge about an Ipswich land deal.

Millions of dollars in funds were promised from the Yamanto project Pisasale was endorsing.

On several occasions, Pisasale used council funds to travel interstate. These travels totalled more than $4000.

In June 2017, he was caught with the restricted drug Sildenafil, sld under the brand name Viagra.

Pisasale’s perjury charge stems from giving a false testimony at a CCC hearing in 2017.

His defence lawyer, David Jones, said his client’s good character, age and health and the humiliation he had suffered should be taken into account for sentencing.

“While he was Lord Mayor of the Ipswich City Council, he did many good things,” Mr Jones said.

“Mr Pisasale entered politics with the best of intentions.”

Judge Dennis Lynch adjourned Pisasale’s sentencing to next Wednesday.
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