Former chief scientist used fraud cash on school fees
QUEENSLAND'S former chief scientist has today been sentenced to prison after she defrauded the Queensland Museum Network (QMN) of over $75,000, using taxpayer money to fund school fees and purchase personal items including a luxury silk jacket and a garden shed.
Suzanne Miller, 55, who held the title of chief executive officer of QMN between February 2014 and July 2017, and was also Queensland's chief scientist from late 2016 to July 2017, was today sentenced to three year's jail, to be suspended after three months imprisonment.
Miller was earning an annual salary of approximately $376,000 while working in her dual roles for QMN, and around $280,000 prior to taking on the second role as chief scientist, Brisbane Magistrate's Court heard today.
Earlier this year Miller pleaded guilty to defrauding QMN of taxpayer funds by using a corporate credit card to pay for around $30,000 of personal expenses, as well as fraudulently obtaining free health insurance - a move that cost taxpayers approximately $45,000.
The court heard how Miller used the corporate card to pay money towards her mortgage, buy a drum kit, and fund overseas flights for her family.
Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook described Miller's fraudulent activity as "arrogant" and an act of "greed, not need."
"This case is about Ms Miller's greed and arrogance, in the Crown's submission," Mr Cook said.
Miller's spending also included a garden shed worth approximately $600, a silk jacket worth nearly $1,000 and an outdoor table setting of nearly $2,000.
On two occasions Miller used the credit card to pay for her daughter's private school fees at a total of around $8,000.
That money was later repaid.
The court heard Miller dishonestly produced a letter from the Department of Immigration stating her health insurance was to be paid by QMN - a move Mr Cook said was "not a case of wilful blindness."
"The conduct of Ms Miller was not merely a short-lived lapse but it was this consistent course of grossly significant abuse of a high office," he said.
Mr Cook later went on to say Miller was "completely taken aback" when the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) attended her workplace with a search warrant in July 2017.
"She was stealing from essentially the state, and then was taken aback when she was investigated and essentially caught out," he said.
While delivering Miller's sentence, Magistrate Noel Noonan branded Miller's actions as "blatant" and "a significant breach of trust" before he recognised her professional contributions to science while working at QMN.
Miller, who has so far been imprisoned for 26 days - of which one fortnight was spent in complete cell lockdown due to COVID-19 requirements - will be placed on a good behaviour bond after her sentence is suspended following three months behind bars.
She was also ordered to repay the stolen funds.
Originally published as Former chief scientist jailed for $75k fraud