Queensland’s former chief scientist has been sentenced to three years’ jail for misusing about $75,000 in taxpayer funds with purchases that included a silk jacket, an electric scooter and a drum kit.
Suzanne Miller was earning a significant wage at the helm of Queensland Museum Network (QMN) when she fraudulently obtained private health insurance and used a corporate credit card to make personal purchases.
Labelling her actions “blatant”, “protracted” and a “significant breach of trust”, Brisbane Magistrate Noel Nunan ordered Miller to serve a total of three months behind bars, after which her jail term will be suspended and she will be placed on a three-year good behaviour bond.
Miller appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday via video link after pleading guilty in March to causing financial detriment to the QMN between February 2014 and July 2017.
The court heard that on two occasions Miller paid her daughter’s private school fees using the corporate credit card.
Those amounts were later repaid.
Miller was appointed as chief scientist in late 2016, while continuing to work as QMN’s chief executive and director.
Despite earning approximately $367,000 through her dual roles, Crown Prosecutor Christopher Cook told the court the salary was not enough to satisfy Miller.
“[Her offending] was out of greed and arrogance, not out of need,” he said.
Mr Cook said it was no momentary lapse and described her offending as “a gross abuse of high office”.
Miller was stood aside in 2017 after being charged following a probe by the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission.