Jail time for disgraced mayor
Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale has been sentenced to seven and a half years' jail.
Mr Pisasale pleaded guilty to more than 30 offences including sexual assault, official corruption and fraud, and will now be eligible for parole in October 2022.
The former mayor used council money to purchase several items at auction, two of which were found at his girlfriend's business premises, the court was told.
“I conclude your primary purpose in pursuing this dishonesty was self-promotion,” Judge Dennis Lynch QC said.
Tens of thousands of dollars' worth of donations were deposited into Mr Pisasale's personal bank account during his time as mayor.
“Your misuse of these funds were therefore a gross abuse of your position as a trusted leader of the Ipswich community,” Judge Lynch said.
“I conclude this dishonest conduct was a cynical exploitation of your position engaged in purely for your own financial gain.”
In one case, Mr Pisasale received $28,500 in payments from a developer to support a development application to go through council.
He also received discounted escort services and dinners after he championed a development at Yamanto.
He faced a perjury charge relating to lying to a Crime and Corruption Commission hearing in 2017.
Additionally, Mr Pisasale was found to have “preyed upon” a young woman, twice forcibly kissing and touching her in a council office.
“She [the victim] became more socially isolated and fearful of others and suffered a loss of self-confidence,” Judge Lynch said.
“Although you claimed to have honestly believed she was consenting to your advances, no reasonable basis existed for that belief.
“Her attempts to reject your attentions should have made that abundantly clear to you.”
The offences of official corruption and receiving secret commission by an agent involved “calculated dishonesty in betrayal of your position as mayor of Ipswich”, the judge said.
“These offences have the capacity to undermine public confidence in how fundamental institutions of government operate for the betterment of society as a whole,” Judge Lynch said.
“You deliberately engaged in attempts to assist persons seeking to profit from property developments for the express purpose of yourself profiting from those developments.”
The sentence of seven and a half years’ jail took into account Mr Pisasale’s age, poor health and his show of remorse.
He will be eligible for parole after serving two years and three months behind bars.
It is a steep fall for the man once known as “Mr Ipswich”, who won the 2016 Ipswich City Council election with more than 80 per cent of the vote.