Former NT CrimeStoppers boss Xana Kamitsis jailed
Former NT Crime Stoppers chairwoman Alexandra “Xana” Kamitsis has been sentenced to three years and 11 months in prison for fraud and corruption, suspended after 18 months.
Earlier this month, a Supreme Court jury found Kamitsis guilty of 20 counts of fraud, for rorting a NT Health Department scheme set up to give pensioners travel concessions.
Kamitsis has also pleaded guilty to corruptly giving benefits to NT ministerial staffer Paul Mossman and two additional counts of fraud.
The fraud committed by Kamitsis totals almost $124,000.
More to come.
Supporters’ shock as Darwin travel agent and socialite Xana Kamitsis heads to jail | NT News
Xana Kamitsis pictured on November 14, 2014, the day NT Police arrested her at her Altitude Travel offices in relation to alleged fraud charges, 20 of which she was found guilty of yesterday. Picture: Supplied
The prison van that likely transported her to Holtze jail – which also houses Peter Falconio’s killer Bradley Murdoch – was no doubt a downgrade from the limousines the jury heard she paid for with fraudulently obtained taxpayer money, during trips to Sydney and Melbourne between 2009 and 2013.
It’s also unlikely the bed will compare to the plush one she laid in at the Park Hyatt in Sydney while Mr McRoberts and his daughter also stayed there in 2010.
Kamitsis’ foray into the prison system came as a shock to many, particularly her supporters. Throughout the two-and a half week trial the courtroom was transformed into a who’s who of the Darwin glitterati. The partners of defence lawyers Jon Tippett QC and Peter Maley sat in on several days of proceedings, greeting Kamitsis with hugs before court began for the day.
Members of the Paspaley family also made appearances.
But only husband George Kamitsis and Charles Darwin University staffer Nigel Turvey were present yesterday as she was found guilty.
It was the first time her husband had attended the court proceedings. Mr Turvey, on the other hand, sat in the front row of the gallery every day of the trial.
He furiously took notes and complained to the officers of the court when journalists tweeted updates on their phones. Kamitsis remained composed throughout the trial, not crying once or showing any kind of extreme emotion.
She laughed and yawned at times, but for the most part remained alert and attune to everything that was being said about her. She matched black pants with a range of different coloured business shirts that varied from pale blue to pink and white. She left the court every day with Mr Tippett and Mr Maley, until yesterday
Former NT police commissioner John McRoberts and travel agent Xana Kamitsis were booked into same Melbourne hotel room, court documents show
Kamitsis, who ran Latitude Travel, was also the chair of the Northern Territory branch of Crime Stoppers, and has been accused of rorting a NT Government scheme designed to subsidise the travel of pensioners.
In his opening statement to the Supreme Court, crown prosecutor David Morters alleged Kamitsis fraudulently obtained money from the scheme and used it for the benefit of family and friends, including $1,000 transferred to a “trip file” for Mr McRoberts.
It was not alleged that Mr McRoberts was aware of the transfer.
Mr McRoberts resigned as police commissioner in January this year, after the Government cited a perceived conflict of interest.
‘Very close friends’
Mr Morters said the crown would allege emails showed Kamitsis was “very close friends” with Mr McRoberts and this was “motive” for fraud.
Documents tendered to the NT Supreme Court today showed that in September 2010 Kamitsis booked a stay in the Park Hyatt’s Spa King room for herself and Mr McRoberts the following month.
The two nights’ accommodation cost a total of $1,100, and Kamitsis also paid for limousine transport at a cost of $210.
Court documents indicated that Kamitsis tried to organise a twin room at the hotel, but when one was not available asked for a rollaway bed to be included.
The ABC is not suggesting the pair were having a sexual relationship.
In November 2010, Kamitsis also organised limousine rides for Mr McRoberts and his daughter, who were in Sydney, the documents indicated.
“On 19 November 2010 a booking request was received by our business via email … from Kamitsis for a number of services,” said joint owner of CD Limousines, Cathy Porfida, in a statutory declaration submitted to the court.
Kamitsis requested five limousine transfers for Mr McRoberts and his daughter, including trips from Sydney airport to his hotel and rides to the theatre, the documents show, and paid for them in full.
It was not alleged that the limousine rides were paid for using funds fraudulently obtained by Kamitsis.
“I would appreciate if you could do the pick-up yourself please – as this is a VIP client,” Kamitsis said in an email to CD co-owner Vince Porfida on November 19, 2010 that was part of the court documents.
Concern elderly witnesses will remember ‘limited’ details
In some instances Kamitsis said the airfares cost more than they did when sending the invoice to the Department of Health for the pensioner concession entitlement, Mr Morters said.
He said a witness, who is a former employee of Latitude Travel, would testify Kamitsis insisted she process all invoices for travel herself.
Other witnesses would include elderly pensioners, but Mr Morters noted because of their age their ability to remember details would be “limited”.
The court heard that one of the elderly witnesses had died.
A statement from the current NT Assistant Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker, was also in the court documents.
Mr Chalker said he was told that Kamitsis organised a flight upgrade for himself and Mr McRoberts in 2010 when they were travelling back to Darwin from Canberra.
“I was not aware that there was any financial cost for the upgrade,” Mr Chalker said in his statutory declaration.
The case continues.
Clarification: Latitude Travel in Darwin is not associated in any way with the company, directors, owners or staff of Latitude Group Travel based in Melbourne.
From other news sites:
Xana’s tough prison days | NT News
Xana Kamitsis leaves the Northern Territory Supreme Court … her prison garb will be a long way from her habitual fashionable threads.
Guards have shared with the NT News what a newbie’s first few days of incarceration entail.
The travel agent and former chair of NT Crime Stoppers was jailed after being found guilty of defrauding the Health Department in the NT Supreme Court on Tuesday. Kamitsis was told she would be remanded in custody and was transported by prison van to the women’s section of the Darwin jail in Holtze, where she’ll be housed, at least for now.
Upon entry to the prison all inmates are subjected to a full strip search, showered and treated for nits and scabies. They are then issued with their prison ID tag.
Guards inside say newcomers are vulnerable because they don’t know how things work and can be subject to stand over and intimidation tactics by more experienced prisoners.
Demands are often made and although guards are there to keep prisoners safe, whining about having your breakfast taken is probably not worth the hassle or risk of becoming a bigger target.
It’s likely Kamitsis will share a cell in a compound that houses up to 24 low security prisoners.
Her new threads are worlds away from the tailored clothes she sported during her trial.
Like most of her fellow inmates she’ll be wearing a pair of basic shorts with an elastic band waist, made on-site at the prison, and a blue cotton T-shirt. Breakfast and dinner is served in the compounds but lunch is generally served in the general population area.
At 5.30pm accommodation areas are locked until morning but common areas inside the compounds can still be used, at least for low security prisoners.
Each prisoner is given a pass code for the telephone system and can pay to make calls. Approved phone numbers are given a prefix for example; Mum might be “1”. Prisoners can contact their lawyers and the NT Ombudsman free of charge.
Kamitsis will appear in court today.
Travel agent Xana Kamitsis checks in to Holtze jail after being found guilty of all 20 charges | NT News
Xana Kamitsis was found guilty of all 20 charges of obtaining benefit by deception. Picture: NT News
The 12 jurors took less than three hours yesterday to find the Darwin travel agent and former head of Crimestoppers NT guilty of all 20 charges of obtaining benefit by deception.
NT Supreme Court Acting Justice Dean Mildren remanded Kamitsis in custody after it was revealed she had booked a one-way ticket to the US.
Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw released a statement late yesterday that said the community should have “complete confidence in the integrity” of all serving police officers.
Mr Kershaw said Acting Deputy Commissioner Jamie Chalker “did nothing wrong” after it was revealed during the trial he was the recipient of a flight upgrade paid for by Kamitsis. Mr Kershaw said Mr Chalker was simply an “unwitting and unknowing beneficiary” of the upgrade.
After the guilty verdict, Crown Prosecutor David Morters opposed bail because he was concerned Kamitsis might flee the Territory.
Mr Morters said police confirmed she had booked a “one-way ticket from Darwin to Sydney to Los Angeles for herself and members of her family on 19 December”.
“Imprisonment is an inevitable outcome of the activities the accused engaged in,” he said.
The maximum penalty for each charge is seven years’ jail.
Defence lawyer Jon Tippett QC said a prison sentence was “not inevitable” and the Christmas holiday to Aspen was planned for a long time.
Acting Justice Mildren refused bail but said she could reapply at a later date. Acting Justice Mildren said he would remain in Darwin until December 9.
“I can change that date if I need to because I’ve got a fully flexible fare,” he said, as the court erupted with laughter.
Mr Morters asked for the matter to be adjourned to allow both parties time to “gather our thoughts”.
Mr Morters said he wanted to know how Kamitsis intended to deal with another 85 outstanding charges, and if she would appeal the verdict.
Acting Justice Mildren adjourned the matter until Friday, with a sentencing date still to be confirmed.
The jury found the Darwin socialite intentionally deceived the pensioner travel scheme by submitting fraudulent invoices for flights that were more expensive than the ones she booked for her clients.
They found she had fraudulently obtained about $18,000 of taxpayer money.
It was then used to book flights, hotels and limousines for her son, mum, brother and sister-in-law and herself.
She also transferred $1000 obtained for flights for a pensioner, into the trip file of Mr McRoberts.
It was revealed during the trial that Kamitsis had an “intimate relationship” with both Mr McRoberts and former commander Richard Bryson.
The $1000 was used on flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, as well as airport transfers and accommodation at the Park Hyatt in Melbourne so her “VIP client” could attend the 2010 AFL Grand Final rematch.
Mr McRoberts resigned earlier this year after it was alleged he interfered in her investigation.
Mr Bryson was demoted to superintendent in May after it was found he failed to declare a conflict of interest, that he and Kamitsis were friends.
Mr Kershaw said his priority was “to uphold and enforce the highest standards of conduct and behaviour. We have rigorous processes in place to ensure public trust in the probity of our officers’’, he said.
Mr Kershaw said Mr Chalker – who was chief of staff to Mr McRoberts in 2010 – “had no knowledge that funds were used or required for the flight upgrade”.
“A/Deputy Commissioner Chalker has assisted fully in providing a statement for the trial,” Mr Kershaw said.
He said Mr Bryson was investigated earlier this year. “As appropriate action was taken then, no further action will be taken now,’’ he said.
Mr McRoberts did not return the NT News’ calls.
Xana Kamitsis admits in court she had ‘intimate’ relationships with ex-NT Police Commissioner John McRoberts and former commander Richard Bryson | NT News
November 24, 2015 12:23PM
Xana Kamitsis admitted in court to having had ‘intimate’ relationships with former top NT police officers John McRoberts and Richard Bryson
The two agreed facts were tabled in the NT Supreme Court on Monday, at the start of day four of her criminal trial into allegations she rorted an NT Government pensioner travel scheme.
They stated “the accused had an intimate relationship with John McRoberts” and “the accused had an intimate relationship with Richard Bryson”.
It followed the tabling of 138 agreed facts last week, where Kamitsis admitted she created invoices and itineraries for clients that were then sent to the pensioner travel scheme unit for approval.
Kamitsis confirmed she obtained the costs of airfares used in the invoices “by booking but never confirming the flights”.
The Darwin travel agent then transferred the approved money from the department’s credit card into her business bank account, before dispersing it into “relevant” tripfiles.
Flow charts given to the jury showed $1000 was transferred from a client’s tripfile into that of Mr McRoberts.
It was used to book flights, Park Hyatt Melbourne accommodation, limousine and car hire.
More than $700 was transferred into the tripfile of Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker for a flight upgrade.
A statutory declaration by Mr Chalker confirmed he was bumped up to business class on a Canberra to Darwin flight in September 2010.
“I was told by Commissioner McRoberts that Mrs Kamitsis had organised the upgrade. I was not aware that there was any financial cost for the upgrade,’’ he said.
Mr Chalker’s declaration was included in the agreed facts tabled last week.
They also confirmed Mr McRoberts was “a friend of the accused”.
On Monday the jury was read the statements of three pensioners whose completed travel application forms were sent to the pensioner travel scheme unit; two were witnessed by Kamitsis.
All three confirmed they had never seen the forms and their signatures were not the ones written on them.
Antonio Maia – who was born in East Timor and speaks limited English – said he could not read the writing on the form. “I have had a look at the signature and it is not my signature,’’ he said.
Mr Maia said he had never visited Kamitsis’ Latitude Travel business and “don’t know what this is all about”.
Flavia Perez gave evidence she provided the names, card numbers, dates of birth and travel dates to Kamitsis for both Mr Maia and his wife.
She said she did not fill in or sign either application form.
In cross-examination, Ms Perez confirmed she asked Latitude Travel to arrange flights on behalf of the couple, but she later asked for the dates to be changed from those listed on the forms.
Crown prosecutor David Morters closed the case after another two facts, relating to jury documents, were tabled in court.
The jury was excused about 3pm to enable defence lawyer Jon Tippett QC to “make an application” to Acting Justice Dean Mildren in their absence.
The trial continues.
Mr McRoberts resigned in January following allegations he interfered in the investigation of Kamitsis.
It is understood the Australian Federal Police’s investigation into Mr McRoberts has since been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions and a special prosecutor from Victoria. An AFP spokeswoman said the review of the matter by the special prosecutor would “ultimately determine whether any further action is deemed necessary”.
Mr Bryson was demoted to superintendent in May after an investigation found he had failed to declare a conflict of interest.
Commissioner Reece Kershaw said at the time he believed the relationship between Kamitsis and Mr Bryson was “platonic”.
Supt Bryson told the NT News on Monday he was “unable to make any comment at this point in time”.
“I do not wish to say or do anything that may impact the current judicial proceedings,’’ he said. “I understand the Commissioner of Police will be making a statement at the appropriate time.”
Senior NT police officer suspended amid inquiry into former police commissioner John McRoberts
Updated 16 Jan 2015, 8:50am
A senior Northern Territory police officer has been suspended from duty amid an investigation that prompted the resignation of the commissioner, John McRoberts, on Wednesday.
The ABC understands senior crime Commander Richard Bryson was suspended after details emerged surrounding the circumstances that led to Mr McRoberts’ resignation, police said in a statement.
The Northern Territory’s Acting Police Commissioner says the public should have full confidence in the force, despite the resignation of the former Commissioner … and the suspension of a senior officer.
John McRoberts resigned on Wednesday despite denying accusations he involved himself in a criminal investigation, which gave rise to a conflict of interest.
“I have taken this action to enable a thorough investigation into the matters that have been brought to my attention and to ensure that the integrity of the Northern Territory Police Force is maintained,” Acting Commissioner Reece Kershaw said in a statement.
“The community of the Northern Territory should continue to have full confidence in the NT Police Force and its serving police officers, who keep people safe and carry out their duties diligently, effectively and with integrity.”
Police issued a statement early on Friday announcing that Acting Commissioner Kershaw would make a statement on “the forward direction of the NT Police, Fire and Emergency Service”.
Mr McRoberts resigned amid a formal investigation into his conduct.
Acting Chief Minister Peter Chandler said yesterday he asked for the resignation after he was made aware of allegations the commissioner involved himself in a criminal investigation where his relationship with the subject of that investigation gave rise to a conflict of interest.
The ABC understands Mr McRoberts was accused of attempting to quash a search warrant in the criminal investigation related to Darwin travel agent Xana Kamitsis.
Ms Kamitsis, the former head of Crime Stoppers NT, was arrested last November as part of an investigation into the alleged rorting of a government travel subsidy scheme.
The case is currently before the courts.
The ABC also understands Mr McRoberts advocated for the charges against Ms Kamitsis to be changed from criminal to civil ones.
This afternoon police released a statement announcing a senior police officer had been suspended.
Cmdr Bryson has been contacted for comment.
Strong local candidates: police union
The Northern Territory Police Association (NTPA) released a statement seeking to assure the community its members were “professional, hardworking and honest” in the wake of what it described as the “sudden resignation” of Mr McRoberts.
“Our association is clearly concerned about the circumstances surrounding the Commissioner’s resignation, however until the investigation is finalised Mr McRoberts, Commander Bryson, and any other member accused of misconduct are entitled to fair treatment and due process,” NTPA acting president Col Goodsell said.
“While we believe there are strong local candidates there is a need for a wide ranging process. We want the best person appointed to these two critical jobs as soon as possible.”
“We obviously want a transparent investigation to ensure our members and the public have confidence in senior police management into the future.”
Mr Goodsell said the NT Police force was professional, hard working and honest, “none more so then the investigators in this case who have clearly acted with absolute integrity and propriety”.
The last local officer to work his way through the ranks of the NT Police was Mick Palmer in 1988.
“While we believe there are strong local candidates there is a need for a wide ranging process. We want the best person appointed to these two critical jobs as soon as possible,” Mr Goodsell said.
“The NT Government should immediately initiate a professional recruitment process. Now, more than ever, there is a need for stability at the top to rebuild confidence and maintain the good reputation of the NT Police.”
Mr Goodsell said NT Police members deserved strong stable leadership from police management and the Government.
I reject the allegations: McRoberts
Mr McRoberts has rejected claims he interfered with a criminal investigation, and that he had any conflict of interest.
“I don’t accept I have a conflict of interest at all,” he told the ABC on Wednesday.
“I don’t accept that I have had in any way conflicted myself or interfered with any investigation.”
He said he agreed to resign so police would not be distracted from their duties.
Mr McRoberts joined the Northern Territory Police in 2009 after a 31-year career with West Australian police.
Deaths in custody, uniform changes and alcohol policy marked his tenure
His contract was renewed for five more years in May last year.
First posted 15 Jan 2015, 7:25pm
“Journalist lunatics” – 1; Travel agent – 1 in NT Supreme Court suppression standoff | The Northern Myth
Not long ago Alexandra “Xana” Kamitsis might have been described in the media as a “glamorous socialite” or “highly respected businesswoman.”
Her profile at Ruby Connection describes her as a woman “recognised for her natural charm, elegant style and business savvy approach … Xana is extremely well connected within Darwin both politically and locally.”
Her current businesses ventures include Latitude Travel, a highly successful niche travel and event management company for high-end business and corporate executives with clients from all over the world.
Late yesterday afternoon Justice Mildren published his decision in The Queen v Alexandra Kamitsis. Following her committal in the Darwin Magistrate’s Court earlier this year on 132 counts Xana has been indicted in the Supreme Court on 30 “representative” counts of obtaining a benefit for herself or another by deception and a number of counts of stealing pleaded as alternatives to most of the deception charges.
As Justice Mildren noted, the particulars of the obtain benefit by deception counts that Xana faces:
… mostly relate to an allegation that the defendant, who was the principal of the travel agency business called Latitude 69 Pty Ltd presented invoices in relation to a pensioner concession entitlement for amounts which were not the proper amount payable for the pensioners’ travel concession.
In relation to three of the counts it is alleged that the persons concerned had not sought payment of a pensioner travel concession.
Justice Mildren’s decision did not concern Xana’s substantive trial–that will start in mid-November–but related to an application by Xana to suppress media reporting of her name and the publication of identifying material, including photos and footage taken at the time of her arrest in November 2014.
In support of the suppression application Xana’s barrister John Tippett pointed to a number of articles published in the local journal of record the NT News between November 2014 and as late of the day of the hearing on Friday last week.
Justice Mildren resisted the temptation to adopt Tippett’s more florid language used to describe the offending pieces–for that we’ll have to rely on the subject of Tippett’s objections.
The NT News reported that Tippett told the Court there had been an “overkill” of stories since Xana’s arrest.
He said the repeated use of video footage and images of the socialite in handcuffs was damaging her right to a fair trial. Mr Tippett said media reporting of Kamitsis had been “completely over the top” and could “deeply prejudice” a jury.
He made particular reference to the NT News and political reporter Christopher Walsh, who he accused of having a “fetish” for Kamitsis … “We’re dealing with journalist lunatics.”
Tippett told the Court that the NT News articles spoke for themselves and demonstrated baseless allegations unconnected with the present charges. Tippett wanted “a small window” to ensure that Xana gets a fair trial in November.
Justice Mildren noted that an examination of the articles revealed allegations:
… that the defendant has been connected with the resignation of the former Commissioner of Police; it has been alleged that the former Commissioner was forced to resign after he had had improperly sought to interfere in the police investigation into the original charges which were brought in the committal proceedings; that the Commissioner of Police had an improper relationship with the accused; that the accused had provided “benefits” to the Police Commissioner; that another senior police officer had been suspended; that the defendant had been involved in a corrupt arrangement with a former ministerial chief of staff against whom corruption charges have now been brought; and that the defendant has also recently been charged with three counts of corruptly giving a benefit and one count of criminal deception.
He referred to submissions from counsel for the ABC, the NT News and Channel 9 that argued the quality of the journalism was not irresponsible and was fair and proper. The judge was having none of that, noting:
In my opinion, Mr Roper’s submission understates the overall effect of the articles published in the NT News.
After consideration of the applicable law and observing that most, if not all, of the material the subject of the articles would be inadmissible as evidence at her trial, Justice Mildren noted that in order for Xana’s application to succeed she needed to show that there was a proven substantial or real risk that the material would seriously interfere with the administration of her trial and thus constitute a contempt of Court.
He found that the evidence before him did not meet that test and Xana’s application should be dismissed.
But before the “lunatics” in the Darwin press pack could toast a victory for press freedom, Justice Mildren, noting that the trial is close handy, issued a stern warning to the media to be “very careful and circumspect” about publishing any material about which Xana had complained.
There should be no further publication of photographs of the defendant showing her in handcuffs or being placed in the back of a paddy wagon. There should be no reference to the other outstanding charges which are being held in abeyance pending the outcome of these proceedings. There should be no suggestions that the defendant is the centrepiece of a web of deception or anything like that. There should be no reference to other suggestions of a scandalous kind and in particular as to the defendant’s relationship with the former Police Commissioner, ministers or former ministers of the Crown or their staffers, there should be no attempt to link the defendant with suggestions of travel rorts by other travel agencies.
Xana didn’t get her suppression order but, as Tippett told the media outside Court, “This is a very significant warning to the press that my client is entitled to a fair trial.”
I mark that as a close run draw.
For those interested in the rise and rise of the suppression order, particularly in Victorian Courts, this recent piece by the ABC’s Liz Hobday on a recent Melbourne Press Club debate provides some fascinating background.
Photo: Google. https://profiles.google.com/112771618702248950860/about