LISTEN: The phone calls that brought Pisasale undone

DAMNING phone calls that helped convict Paul Pisasale of extortion have been released, showing the extent of then-mayor's deception in posing as a private investigator to demand money.

The phone calls can be released after Pisasale, 67, was convicted of two counts of extortion in the Brisbane District Court, along with his co-accused, Chinese escort worker Yutian Li, 39.

A third person, Ipswich lawyer Cameron McKenzie, 37, was also convicted of one extortion count.

They were remanded in custody overnight and are to be sentenced this afternoon, with crown prosecutors asking for a head sentence of between three to four years for Pisasale.

The extortion was uncovered after a series of phone calls by Pisasale, which were intercepted by the Crime and Corruption Commission as part of its investigation into Ipswich council.

CCC officials were monitoring the then-mayor's phone calls between January and March 2017.

They proved to be key evidence in proving he was guilty of extortion when he made a series of demands for money to the ex-boyfriend of Li.

Chinese escort worker Yutian Li, 39, outside Brisbane District Court. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt
Chinese escort worker Yutian Li, 39, outside Brisbane District Court. Picture: AAP/Glenn Hunt

Pisasale first met Li in January 2017 for a massage that included sexual services, and they continued to meet and communicate.

Li at this time told Pisasale she had been dumped by her ex-boyfriend, who she said had promised to marry her before breaking up by telling her he was dying.

Pisasale then made a series of threats to her ex-boyfriend, Xin Li, including that he would be sued for $200,000 and face a costly court battle.

But Pisasale knew Li was not actually owed any money by her ex-boyfriend.

Instead, he was using him as a means to fund her continued stay in Australia.

Pisasale first phoned Li's ex-boyfriend on January 10, 2017, pretending to be a man named George Robinson and conducting a health survey.

"It's George Robinson here. We are just doing a survey on peoples' health in Australia," he says.

He ascertains that the man is married and passes the information on to Li.

Pisasale also makes plans, in another call, to meet Li.

Then, on January 15, Pisasale makes further phone calls to the ex-boyfriend. These calls form the basis of one of his extortion convictions.

He tells the ex-boyfriend he is a "friend" of Yutian Li, but initially mispronounces her name.

"It's very important we talk. She doesn't want any trouble," he says.

In a subsequent phone call, Pisasale tells the man Li had "hired" his company.

But confusion ensues when Pisasale mispronounces her name multiple names.

"Do you want me to send the photos of you and her?" Pisasale says.

Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale. Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt
Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale. Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt

 

 

Ipswich lawyer Cameron McKenzie. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Ipswich lawyer Cameron McKenzie. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

He then asks the man to hold the line for a minute, but returns to misspell her name.

"What are you talking about?" the ex-boyfriend asks.

"Okay well if you don't want to co-operate we are going to be issuing proceedings in court," Pisasale replies.

Pisasale phones back later, this time correctly spelling her name.

"Who are you?" the ex-boyfriend asks.

"I'm a private investigator that she's hired," Pisasale replies.

"She just wants to find out the truth otherwise we will be proceeding with court action.

"She doesn't want to cause you any trouble. She's very heartbroken and she feels like you've deceived her."

Pisasale demands money - varying from $5000 to $10,000 - for Li from the man.

At one stage, he threatens that he would be talking to the Australian Government and knows the Immigration Minister.

He later directed McKenzie to send a letter of demand for $8400, which included $6100 in private investigator fees.

But the prosecution proved there was reasonable cause to demand money from the ex-boyfriend and there was no evidence of any private investigator, other than Pisasale posing as one.

 

LISTEN TO THE CALLS

 

A phone call between Paul Pisasale and Xin Li, the ex-boyfriend of escort worker/masseuse Yutian Li. Pisasale phones the ex-boyfriend posing as telemarketer George Robinson to ascertain if he is married for Yutian Li.

 

Paul Pisasale discussing plans to meet up with Yutian Li, an escort/masseuse he had just met and started seeing.

A phone call between Paul Pisasale and Xin Li, where he tells him he is a friend of Yutian Li and wants to talk.

A phone call between Paul Pisasale and Xin Li, where Pisasale tells him Yutian Li had "hired" his company.

A phone call between Paul Pisasale and Xin Li where he poses as a private investigator hired by Yutian Li, Xin Li's ex-girlfriend.

Another phone call between Paul Pisasale and Xin Li where he continues to pose as a private investigator, refuses to say who he is and threatens court action.


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