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Mark Johnston outside Maryborough court on the day of his conviction. (ABC Central Victoria: Bridget Rollason)
The previous CEO of a regional Victorian council has been convicted after pleading responsible to 5 prices of monetary deception for misusing his council bank card.
Mark Johnston, 58, appeared within the Maryborough Magistrates court docket the place he admitted he ‘minimize corners’ and misused almost $10,000 of Central Goldfields Shire cash.
He has been fined $26,000 and in addition been ordered to pay $10,000 in prices however has not been ordered to reimburse council.
The prosecution claimed Mr Johnston, who was on a yearly wage of $240,000, misused his council bank card 112 occasions, which included shopping for his household meals and claiming bills for conferences that didn’t happen, between 2009 and 2013.
“Mr Johnston would pay for his spouse and 4 kids’s meals in addition to their companions at numerous places in addition to shopping for them takeaway meals,” Prosecutor Andrew Palmer informed the court docket.
“That is dishonest conduct over a interval of 4 years, by the very best individual on the council, who was effectively remunerated for his work.”
Different offences associated to transactions in Broadbeach, Queensland when Mr Johnston was on annual go away and transactions referring to conferences with Capilano Honey and Regional Growth Victoria which the businesses declare didn’t happen.
Mr Johnston additionally used his council bank card at cafes in Ballarat when his son was enjoying basketball in addition to AFL video games he attended in Melbourne, as a Western Bulldogs member.
There have been additionally transactions for lodging unrelated to council enterprise.
Not ‘bent on residing a lavish life-style’
Defence Layer Jeremy Rapke claimed the 58-year-old’s actions have been “affordable” as a result of he was usually interrupted by members of the group throughout his dinners together with his household.
“Mr Johnston by no means missed a possibility to advance the curiosity of the shire,” Mr Rapke stated.
“In his thoughts his household would assist promote the shire’s advantages.”
The defence stated the Central Goldfields Shire had no coverage relating to purchasing meals for members of the family and stated Mr Johnston misjudged the place the road was to be drawn.
“Mr Johnston labored taxing hours and he was underneath huge strain in his position, which is why his diary entries referring to his bills lacked element,” Mr Rapke stated.
“These transactions weren’t fraud on a grand scale.
“Some transactions have been as small as $10 — they weren’t giant, egocentric transactions by a public official bent on residing a lavish life-style.”
The defence additionally claimed Mr Johnston saved the council $160,000 every year by taking over two roles, working because the CEO and financial growth supervisor.
Offending ‘out of character’
A number of character witnesses informed the court docket they have been shocked and shocked once they learnt of Mr Johnston’s offending.
“Mark has misplaced quite a lot of weight and he is develop into very withdrawn [because the prices have been laid,” Former Central Goldfields Shire worker Janet Boynton informed the court docket.
“I used to be in disbelief [once I learnt of the offending] it simply did not meet up with the individual I had labored with on and off for 20 years.”
CEO of the Metropolis of Larger Bendigo Shire Craig Niemann who has recognized Mr Johnston since 1986, informed the court docket his behaviour was ‘out of character’.
“It isn’t the Mark I do know,” he stated.
The court docket heard there was no reimbursement by Mr Johnston for the transactions.
Mr Johnston was stood down from his position because the CEO of the Shire in July 2017 and formally resigned in August 2017.
After his resignation, the elected Councillors of the Central Goldfields Shire have been sacked by the Victorian Authorities and changed by directors and a brand new CEO.