Disgraced Vic bureaucrat rejected by Uber

Nino Napoli siphoned off more than $500,000 meant for state schools to friends and family.
Nino Napoli siphoned off more than $500,000 meant for state schools to friends and family.

A disgraced former Victorian education department bigwig caught rorting a multi-billion dollar project for state schools now can't even get a job as an Uber driver.

Nino Napoli climbed the ladder to become the general manager of the department's finance unit while quietly siphoned off more than $500,000 to friends and family.

Napoli personally pocketed $95,000, including a $2000 toupee, between 2007 and 2014. His cousin Carlo Squillacioti scored $58,000.

Both men have pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to defraud as well as conspiring to pervert the course of justice when Victoria's anti-corruption commission started sniffing around.

Barrister Jim Shaw told Victoria's County Court on Friday Napoli had been humiliated by frenetic media coverage and had even received threatening letters.

"It's been a spectacular fall from grace. It's been very, very public," Mr Shaw said.

Napoli tried to get a job as an Uber driver but was knocked back because of the charges against him.

"He couldn't even get a job doing that," Mr Shaw said.

"That's what he's been reduced to."

Over almost seven years, Napoli and Squillacioti submitted 72 false invoices worth more than $500,000 to the education department for companies connected with their families.

Napoli used his seniority to award contracts and approve payments to people and companies with whom he was connected.

He made sure payments went through without any scrutiny, regardless of whether the companies were legally entitled to carry out the work or whether it was done at all.

Napoli was initially hit with 164 separate charges following a long-running investigation by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

He admitted just two under a plea deal with prosecutors in May.

Sporting his toupee during Friday's pre-sentence hearing, Napoli sought to be spared jail so he could care for his blind 93-year-old mother.

He had seen the light, reconnected with his Christian faith, and thrown himself into community and charity works, the court was told.

Mr Shaw said Napoli had worked at the education department for nearly 40 years and it was his life before his rorting ways brought him undone.

He realised now he and his colleagues had enjoyed too much power and freedom in their high-ranking positions, the barrister also said.

The case is due to return to court next Wednesday for a further pre-sentence hearing.

Australian Associated Press