SEVEN Logan City Councillors have had fraud charges against them dropped in court this morning.
The group were suspended in 2019 after the Crime and Corruption Commission Queensland levelled fraud allegations against them in relation to the sacking of council CEO Sharon Kelsey.
The corruption watchdog alleged the councillors acted together to dishonestly cause detriment to Ms Kelsey by terminating her employment in 2018.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
After the charges were laid, then-Local Government Minister, Stirling Hinchliffe, appointed an administrator at the council and all councillors were stood down with pay.
On Wednesday morning, the Brisbane Magistrates Court heard there was insufficient evidence for the fraud charges and the charges were being withdrawn.
Former Mayor Luke Smith also had fraud charges against him dropped but he has been ordered to face trial on separate counts of misconduct in public office.
One of the sacked councillors, Trevina Schwarz, said she has lived through “2 years of hell” during the ordeal.
“Almost 2 years to the day I was arrested by the CCC, fingerprinted and had my photograph taken and charged with fraud,” Ms Schwarz said in a statement following the decision.
“Because I voted not to extend the probation of then Logan CEO Sharon Kelsey because I thought she was not up to her $500K a year job.
“The death of the presumption of innocence which has occurred with me and my fellow accused and now acquitted fellow Councillors is appalling.
“It is even more appalling that those Councillors who were aligned with Sharon Kelsey not only kept their jobs but were appointed to the Administrations Team which ran the Logan Council up until the March 2020 Local Government Elections.
“I have lived through 2 years of hell now brought to an end because the DPP thankfully accepted my lawyer’s recent submission that the prosecution was misconceived and should be stopped now.
“I am grateful to my family and friends who have stood by me for the last 2 years as I have stood terrified of the prospect of a lengthy jail sentence for voting according to my conscience.”