A police bid to have disgraced whistleblower Ashton Foley kept in custody ahead of a WA court appearance has failed but a Victorian Magistrate has ordered the 40-year-old must return to Perth to face an attempted extortion charge.
Major fraud squad detectives were granted an extradition order, which was uncontested, in Bairnsdale Magistrate’s Court this morning, but were unable to keep Mrs Foley in custody.
Detectives argued in court that the mother-of-seven was a flight risk but the Magistrate released her on bail so she could care for her children.
She will now return to Perth of her own volition to appear in Perth Magistrate’s Court on March 1 on a charge of demanding property with threats from her former employer Health Solutions WA (HSWA).
Mrs Foley allegedly threatened to drip feed the media with dirty laundry about her former employer, Peel Health Campus, unless she was paid more than $40,000 in alleged salary entitlements.
The allegations have been previously detailed in an affidavit submitted to WA’s Supreme Court.
Mrs Foley told a consultant to Peel Health Campus, from where she had resigned as chief operating officer, “that PHC could have made this very simple and this could all go away if she was paid”, according to an affidavit sworn in October.
The affidavit alleges Mrs Foley telephoned the consultant after an article in the Mandurah Mail quoted her making damaging claims about the way the hospital was managed.
“Ashton asked me to pass on a message ‘that unless she is paid what she is owed ($33,000 plus $9000 in leave entitlements) she will continue to drip feed the media with the dirty laundry about PHC’, ” the affidavit said.
“She said that PHC could have made all go away if she was paid.”
Victorian police arrested Mrs Foley on Wednesday after the Director of Public Prosecutions signed off on an extradition approval.
Her arrest came only hours after she was fined $1000 after pleading guilty to breaching a community-based order.
She was put under the order in Victoria in April 2011 for “serious” dishonesty offences and breached the order by going to WA that year.
The mother of seven was later employed by Western Power and then as chief operating officer at PHC in Mandurah on more than $250,000.
Mrs Foley last year testified to a parliamentary committee accusing the hospital of fraud and corruption and was hailed as a courageous whistleblower.
She returned to Victoria in December after quitting PHC and was made chief executive of a regional health service east of Melbourne.
But she was forced to resign after her fraudulent past, including outstanding arrest warrants in the US, was exposed by The West Australian this month.
Major fraud squad detectives are still investigating a complaint made by PHC alleging Mrs Foley falsified her academic qualifications to get the job.