NSW Parliament - allegations of corrupt conduct involving the Member for Penrith and members of her electorate staff (Operation Corinth)

Year: 2010 Status: Completed

The ICAC conducted an investigation into the conduct of the former Member of Parliament for Penrith, Karyn Paluzzano, including allegations that she and other members of her electorate office staff falsely claimed payments from the New South Wales Parliament with respect to the Sitting Day Relief entitlement and the Electorate Mailout Account.

In its report on this investigation, which was made public on 13 July 2010, the ICAC made findings of corrupt conduct against Ms Paluzzano and her former electorate staff Timothy Horan, Jennifer Launt and Kerrie Donlan. The ICAC has stated its opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions be sought with respect to the prosecution of Mrs Paluzzano for specified offences and has made two corruption prevention recommendations to minimise or prevent similar conduct occurring in the future.

Findings of corrupt conduct

The ICAC has found that Karyn Paluzzano, Timothy Horan, Jennifer Launt and Kerrie Donlan engaged in corrupt conduct in connection with the submission of false claims for sitting day relief payments.


Recommendations for prosecutions

The Commission must seek the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on whether any prosecution should be commenced. The DPP determines whether any criminal charges can be laid, and conducts all prosecutions. The Commission provides information on this website in relation to the status of prosecution recommendations and outcomes as advised by the DPP. The progress of matters is generally within the hands of the DPP. Accordingly, the Commission does not directly notify persons affected of advice received from the DPP or the progress of their matters generally.

The ICAC is of the opinion that the advice of the DPP should be sought with respect to the prosecution of Karyn Paluzzano for: the common law offence of misconduct in public office; obtaining a valuable thing for herself contrary to section 178BA of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW); obtaining money for Jennifer Launt, contrary to section 178BA of the Crimes Act; and offences under section 87 of the ICAC Act of giving false or misleading evidence to the ICAC.

On 21 September 2011, the DPP advised the Commission that there was sufficient evidence to charge Ms Paluzzano with one charge of misconduct in public office, two charges under section 178BB of the Crimes Act and two charges under section 87 of the ICAC Act.

On 18 October 2013 Ms Paluzzano, having pleaded guilty to 3 charges under section 178BA of the Crimes Act and one charge under section 87 of the ICAC Act, was sentenced by the Downing Centre Local Court to 18 months home detention.

Ms Paluzzano appealed to the District Court against her sentence. On 15 February 2013, Ms Paluzzano was sentenced to a 14-month suspended sentence in lieu of the sentence imposed in the Local Court.

Recommendations for disciplinary action

The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to taking action against Mr Horan, Ms Launt and Ms Donlan as public officials with a view to dismissing, dispensing with, or otherwise terminating their services on the grounds that they engaged in misconduct.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

The ICAC has made the following two corruption prevention recommendations to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly to minimise or prevent similar conduct occurring in the
future:

RECOMMENDATION 1

That the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly:

a) consider whether and if so, to what extent, door knocking engaged in by electorate officers may constitute or involve "electioneering" or "political campaigning";

b) review the range of duties currently performed by electorate officers to determine whether they perform other activities that may involve electioneering or political campaigning; and

c) prepare written guidelines for Members and electorate officers that clearly define the terms, "electioneering" and "political campaigning", advise whether the activities identified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this recommendation are permissible activities for electorate officers to engage in and emphasise that funds provided for the salaries of electorate officers are intended as payment for the performance of those duties described in relevant position descriptions which do not include electioneering or political campaigning.

RECOMMENDATION 2

That the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly:

a) consider whether Parliament's audit program of Members' entitlements has the capacity to detect corrupt conduct and; if not,

b) develop, implement and regularly evaluate a corruption prevention strategy that includes:

  • a comprehensive risk assessment of the corruption risks in relation to the use of Members' allowances and entitlements

  • a corruption risk management plan describing the corruption risks identified and the strategies Parliament will adopt to manage each of these risks

  • measures capable of detecting corrupt conduct and non-compliance by Members and electorate office staff.

Implementation Plans

The implementation plan posted below has been provided by NSW Parliament in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Its appearance here is for information only and does not constitute the approval or endorsement of the plan by the Commission. 

NSW Parliament - Implementation Plan

Media Releases Witness

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Download the Witness List (PDF)

Transcripts

View all transcripts associated with this investigation. The Commission makes every effort to post the daily transcripts of its public inquiries on its website by 8:00 pm each day when possible. If the Commission sits later than 4:00 pm, the daily transcripts, particularly the afternoon session, may not be available until the next working day.

 

Exhibits Public notices