Former Ipswich mayor charged with extortion

Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale is facing three charges, including one count of extortion, after he was arrested by the Crime and Corruption Commission.
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Mr Pisasale, 65, was arrested by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission and taken to the Brisbane watchhouse on Tuesday where he was formally charged.

He willfront the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning after being remanded in custody overnight.

It follows an eventful fortnight for MrPisasale,who resigned as mayor after 13 years ata June 6 press conference held ata local hospital while he was clad in a dressing gown and red-and-white pyjamas.

He willfront the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning after being remanded in custody overnight.

Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale, wearing a hospital gown and pyjamas, announces his resignation. Photo: 7 News

It follows an eventful fortnight for MrPisasale,who resigned as mayor after 13 years ata June 6 press conference held ata local hospital while he was clad in a dressing gown and red-and-white pyjamas.

MrPisasaletold reporters he had succumbed to multiple sclerosis, a disease from which he had suffered since 1998.

The next day it was revealed Mr Pisasalehad been stopped by Australian Federal Police after he was found carrying a suitcase with $50,000 in cash through Melbourne Airport in May.

Mr Pisasale has told associates that he was merely acting as a courier as a favour for his good friend Brisbane barrister Sam Di Carlo.

He told friends he was in Melbourne visiting a developer when the colourful barrister, a former police officer, asked him to collect a cash payment from a Victorian client as it was needed urgently to settle a law case being run by Mr Di Carlo in Brisbane.

Just why the federal police had Mr Pisasale under surveillance that day is not clear, but they later executed search warrants on his home and office.

The popular mayor, who has run Ipswich council since 2004, denied that the police raid had anything to do with his resignation.

“I would be astonished if it is not legit,” Mr Di Carlo previously told Fairfax Media about the $50,000 in cash.

“I regard him as a very good mayor, a true friend, and honest … the idea that he would take a bribe is ridiculous and I am so sad that he has resigned.”

“Mr Ipswich” Paul Pisasale. Photo: Chris Hyde

Following his arrest, a CCC spokesman said the charges had “nothing to do with the fifty grand” found on MrPisasaleat Melbourne Airport nor OperationBelcarra, the organisation’s investigation into the 2016 local elections.

“The 65-year-old Ipswich man charged today by the CCC has been remanded in custody and is expected to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow [June 21],” a statement from the CCC read.

Asked whether anyone else could become the subject of CCC action, the spokesman said: “I can’t say at this stage. The investigation remains ongoing.”

Ipswich City Council learnt about the arrest on Tuesday afternoon.

Council chief executive Jim Lindsay said the charges related solely to the allegedpersonalmisconduct of Mr Pisasale.

“I’m disappointed to hear through the media of today’s developments,” he said.

“Many council staff have worked closely with Mr Pisasale over a number of years, and I can assure everyone that there are deep feelings of disappointment that their formermayor has been arrested.

“Council business, however, must operate as normal.

“I’m confident the resilience of our dedicated workforce will continue to offer quality service to the people of Ipswich.

“This has always been the case, and has continued to be the case since the resignation of theformermayor on June 6.

“This won’t change tomorrow, nor into the future.”

Mr Pisasale was known as “Mr Ipswich” after becoming one of the city’s most readily identifiable figures.

He was first elected as an Ipswich councillor in 1991 and became Ipswich’s independent mayor in 2004.

Under parliamentary privilege last week, independent state MPRob Pyne levelled serious allegations of corruption and misconductagainst Mr Pisasale and other senior Ipswich council members.

He tabled a four-page unattributed document in Queensland Parliament.

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