Former principal sentenced in fraud case

Former principal sentenced in fraud case

A former principal has been sentenced after giving evidence against a one-time senior education department official facing 150 charges, including conspiracy to defraud.

Former Essendon North Primary School principal, Michael Giulieri, spoke out against former Victorian Education Department finance manager, Nino Napoli yesterday at the County Court, which convicted him of conspiracy to attempt to pervert the course of justice and making a false statement to anti-corruption investigators.

Napoli – a long-time friend of Giulieri – is accused of swindling more than $6m earmarked for disadvantaged Victorian public schools between 2007 and 2014. It is also alleged that four others, including Giulieri, were involved.

However, Giulieri told Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) investigators that he was roped into the fraudulent scheme by Napoli – a lie later exposed when IBAC bugged Napoli's house and recorded conversations between the men discussing the plan.

Giulieri pleaded guilty to being “a peripheral player” in the major fraud which netted more than $1m and was sentenced to a two-year good behaviour bond.

Judge Irene Lawson said Giulieri, who hadn't gained anything from the agreement, “actively participated in Napoli's scheme to create a false story.”

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.

Since the scandal came to light two years ago, the Victorian Department of Education has moved to crack down on malpractice and improve its culture.

Under new rules unveiled in July 2015, school staff in Victoria will only be allowed to travel overseas if they can prove that the travel has a “direct economic benefit to Victoria,” they are representing ministers or the secretary, or the state's reputation “with a significant partner” will be damaged unless they travel.