Maurice Molan avoids conviction for role in $1.8m South West TAFE scandal
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A former TAFE executive who pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office has avoided a conviction for his role in a scandal at an educational facility in south-west Victoria.
Maurice Molan engaged Rebecca Taylor and her company TayTell in 2013 to provide third-party training at South West TAFE in Warrnambool for a Certificate IV in engineering.
The County Court heard Mr Molan entered her into the TAFE's database as having appropriate qualifications to teach the course, despite not having information to suggest she possessed the minimum certification.
Ms Taylor received $1.8 million for the training and Mr Molan left his role at the TAFE shortly afterwards.
Judge Liz Gaynor said she accepted Mr Molan was not motivated by financial gain or complicit in Ms Taylor's alleged fraud.
But she said his actions showed a "lapse of judgement" and that he had breached his responsibility of public office.
Misconduct in public office carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, but no conviction will be recorded against Mr Molan and he will instead pay a $2,500 fine over six months.
Judge Gaynor noted it was an "unusual case" because the charge of misconduct in public office often related to highly serious offences.
"People who are charged with this offence generally run the risk of a term of imprisonment," she said.
The judge said Mr Molan's offending came in the wake of 2012 TAFE funding cuts, which meant he was responsible for securing third-party agreements for training courses.
A submission to the court from Mr Molan's psychologist found he had experienced anxiety and depression in relation to the cuts.
Judge Gaynor noted that there were significant delays in finalising the case since Mr Molan was first interviewed by police in 2016 due to an investigation by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) and the pandemic.
She said Mr Molan had been "highly cooperative" with IBAC's investigation into the offending.
Judge Gaynor said the delays, as well as media attention surrounding the case that falsely linked Mr Molan to the alleged fraud, would have contributed to "significant anxiety" for him.
She said Mr Molan had no prior convictions and was a "devoted family man" who had contributed significantly to his community of Koroit, near Warrnambool.
"This is the only occasion in which you have fallen foul of the law," Judge Gaynor said.
Ms Taylor's case is still before the courts.
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