Lawyer’s arrest a ‘disgusting show of justice’
BRISBANE'S legal fraternity is reeling after three lawyers and another man were charged with aggravated fraud by the state's crime watchdog following a series of early morning arrests.
The Crime and Corruption Commission will allege some of the men were involved in defrauding the taxpayer-funded Legal Aid service of $340,000 and that some failed to comply with a requirement to deposit more than $765,000 into a trust account.
Magill, who was charged with two counts of aggravated fraud, fraudulent falsification of records and aggravated money laundering, spent last night in the watchhouse, after being refused bail, and will appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning.
Cullen and Cunningham were each charged with aggravated fraud while another man, 30, from Inala, was charged with aggravated fraud and aggravated money laundering and held in custody, to appear in Pine Rivers Magistrates Court today.
The Crime and Corruption Commission said the charges were the result of Operation Stockade, an 18-month investigation into a Brisbane law firm, with more arrests expected to come today.
"Operation Stockade has focused on individuals who have allegedly facilitated and supported serious and organised crime,'' CCC Chairman Alan MacSporran QC said.
The CCC did not outline the allegations against each man but said it would be claimed some of the four men charged had laundered the proceeds of serious criminal offences, some had defrauded the taxpayer funded Legal Aid service of $340,000 and some had failed to deposit more than $760,000 into a trust account.
Magill, 47, was arrested at his Tarragindi home and charged with two counts of aggravated fraud, aggravated money laundering and fraudulent falsification of records.
The former Queensland police detective has represented high profile clients, including Karmichael Hunt.
His lawyer, Chris Hannay, questioned why the CCC had waited until Sunday to charge Magill, when a warrant was issued at 9.15am on Friday.
"One could consider it an abuse of power and a disgusting show of justice,'' Mr Hannay said.
"When he was arrested, the Commission couldn't wait half an hour for his wife to come home. They left his two kids, under the age of 15, alone for half an hour or longer.''
Mr Hannay said Magill emphatically denied all the allegations.
Cullen, 28, of Wynnum and Cunningham, 30, of Alderley, who have each been charged with aggravated fraud, were bailed to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on November 19.
Cullen's solicitor said he would be defending the charge.
"Any fraud committed on Legal Aid Queensland is, in my view, a fraud on Queensland taxpayers and it has the potential to interfere with the administration of justice,' Mr MacSporran said.
In a separate case in July last year, high profile Brisbane solicitor Tim Meehan was jailed for five-and-a-half years for fraud and will be eligible for parole in December.
Meehan had pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated fraud and eight counts of fraudulently falsifying records.
He had taken cash payments from clients, personally receiving more than $200,000.
In November, last year, criminal lawyer Michael Bosscher, solicitor Alex Jones and Tom Strofield, a former law clerk with the firm, were each charged with aggravated fraud.
Bosscher was also charged with eight counts of fraudulent falsification of records.