Paternal obligation blamed for Labor lie

·2-min read

A Melbourne father conspired to lie to an anti-corruption investigation out of misplaced paternal obligation to help his son with his political aspirations.

Umberto Mammarella has admitted conspiring with his son, former state Labor candidate Justin Mammarella, and lying to the corruption watchdog about the purpose of more than 700 stamped envelopes.

Mammarella senior worked as an electorate officer in the Cairnlea office of former upper house MP Khalil Eideh when it became the centre of a branch stacking scandal to further his son's political aspirations in 2017.

On Wednesday he admitted conspiring with his son and fellow electorate officers, Angela Scarpaci and Jeffrey O'Donnell, to attempt to pervert the course of justice by telling IBAC the 713 envelopes were for a mail-out for disability service provider Autism Plus.

The envelopes were actually intended for voting Labor members in the Melton electorate, endorsing the younger Mammarella's lower house bid.

Mammarella senior, who goes by Robert, also admitted a charge of perjury, lying to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission when he was called as a witness in June 2018.

"He finds himself involved and embroiled in this circumstance without actually having a motivation of greed - it's best perhaps characterised as a misplaced paternal obligation," his lawyer Daniel Sala told the County Court on Wednesday.

"He approached it with a fervour and a passion ... it was ultimately to assist his son."

Mr Sala said he didn't want to use the word irony, but the lie and the penalty for the lie outshone any illegality relating to the envelopes.

But prosecutor Stephen Devlin said corruption wasn't just about dollars and cents.

The conspiracy was aimed at a particular outcome and although it was not guaranteed, there was value in it, he said.

Judge Rosemary Carlin told Mammarella she would place him on a community corrections order when she hands down her sentence on July 28.

It's still to be determined if the 72-year-old pensioner is capable of doing community work, or if he'll pay a fine.

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