A former Victorian education boss who funnelled almost a million dollars of stolen government funds into a failed school learning program has avoided prison.
Darrell Fraser came up with a complicated fraudulent scheme to divert $999,996 to IT company CSG Services to cover budget blowouts behind the Ultranet online learning portal for state schools.
The project crashed on the day of its high-profile launch in 2010 and was dumped three years later.
It had already cost the government $60 million and the budget was bumped up to $64.6 million when it became clear the project wasn't going to get any more cash.
Fearing five crucial staff would lose their jobs and the completion timeline would be pushed further back, Fraser devised a complex scheme to keep it funded.
He created an illegitimate contract with unrelated third party contractor Alliance Recruitment to transfer department funds to CSG.
Five separate payments were made by the department to Alliance between May and August 2011, and in turn five payments were made by Alliance to CSG.
Alliance kept $59,000 of the funds, with CSG receiving $939,999.
Fraser, a decorated and beloved former teacher and principal, did not profit personally from the deception.
County Court Judge Martine Marich on Friday acknowledged he had acted with a degree of altruism over the period of his offending, nearly a decade ago.
But the offences of obtaining financial advantage by deception and misconduct in public office were serious and the department's loss was just $4 short of $1 million, she said.
Fraser left his job as deputy secretary in the office of government schools in 2011 and went to work for CSG, but has not had paid work for five years.
He was charged by Victoria's anti-corruption watchdog in 2018 and pleaded guilty to the two charges in April this year, after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.
Judge Marich said he was clearly remorseful.
Fraser was ordered to complete 300 hours of community work as part of a two-year community order.