The six-year drama surrounding former MP Craig Thomson’s theft of union funds is finally over. The disgraced politician was today sentenced to 12 months behind bars with 9 suspended, meaning he will spend the next three months in prison. Thomson was found guilty on 65 counts of theft and obtaining financial advantage by deception. Between 2002 and 2007, Thomson was found to have stolen $24,538.42 of funds from the Health Services Union, of which he was the national secretary during that time period.
Thomson was elected to parliament in 2007 as the Labor member for Dobell on the Central Coast. When the scandal broke in 2011, he “asked to be suspended” (read: was told it was either that or a sound beating) by the Julia Gillard-led Labor party, after which he sat on the crossbench as an independent member of parliament until the federal election of last year, where he lost his seat. Turns out nobody on the Central Coast is really that keen on having a guy accused of misappropriation of funds represent them. It’s a risky platform to run on.
Thomson’s investigation, helmed by the Fair Work Australia organisation, found he had used union credit cards to purchase, among other things, sexual services (porn and prostitutes, yo) travel expenses, and (for whatever reason) firewood. A list of items that leads comparably to a sixteen year old boy going to a video store and hiring every film he can find with “nudity and sex scenes” in the classification advice, but also grabbing a copy of Schindler’s List on the way out just to seem a little less inconspicuous.
In sentencing, Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg noted Thomson’s arrogance and blatant dishonesty, stating, “Nothing has been put to me to suggest these matters were not committed for anything other than personal greed.” Thomson’s lawyers had argued that the conviction would ruin any chance of Thomson returning to a normal personal life. Whereas lead prosecutors were vehement in their insistence that anything less than a prison sentence was inadequate.
UPDATE: Craig Thomson has been released on bail, pending an appeal.
Photo: Tony Feder via Getty Images.