Riverina Water chief will go to jail, admits his solicitor

Gerald Pieper
Gerald Pieper

FORMER Riverina Water County Council general manager Gerald Pieper’s case will return to Wagga after he pleaded guilty in a Sydney court yesterday.

Pieper was warned a custodial sentence was inevitable after the plea was entered on six charges relating to misconduct in public office, before Judge Gordon Lerve.

Members of the 56-year-old’s family were inside Sydney District Court as he was granted bail.

Pieper will now front Wagga District Court on August 25, where a hearing date is likely to be set.

The court was told that between January 2001 and December 2010, Pieper used Riverina Water’s corporate credit card for private expenses.

The other charges related to Pieper paying $115,830 into his own account between September 4 and September 27, 2007, and transferring $14,500 between accounts during September 2009.

He also pleaded guilty to acquiring a Holden Statesman Caprice, a Mitsubishi Pajero and a Ford PJ Ranger XL Dual Cab — all property of the county council.

“A custodial sentence is inevitable, isn’t it Mr Weir,” Judge Lerve asked, following the pleas.

Pieper’s solicitor Mr John Weir said it appeared so.

Questions about future appearances prompted Judge Lerve to attach bail conditions.

Pieper was forced to surrender his passport and is prohibited from entering an international airport.

He must also report to Wagga police once a week and forfeit $2000 without security.

Mr Weir told the judge his client had always appeared.

“Presumption of innocence is now gone,” Judge Lerve replied.

The matter was mentioned briefly about 10am yesterday, where the prosecution and Pieper’s legal team sought an extra hour to allow further instruction.

Upon their return, the intention to enter pleas and transfer the case to Wagga were immediately raised.

A Section 35A certificate — which verifies consultation has taken place over charge negotiations — was handed to the judge, along with the facts of the case.

Pieper’s trial had been expected to begin in Sydney on Monday.