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Fraud case twist

Thursday, 22nd May, 2008

The case of an alleged multi-million dollar fraud involving the purchase of cattle stations, a helicopter and a semi-trailer took another turn in the District Court yesterday.

Clifford Roger Maxwell and his wife Sharyn Louise Cicolini, both 35 years old, were last year charged with defrauding banks to buy the Moorabie, Border Downs and Lake Wallace cattle properties, along with the other items.

They pleaded not guilty but in October, Clifford Maxwell (also known as Cicolini) pleaded guilty to five charges of obtaining loans by deception, telling the Local Court that his wife knew nothing about his fraudulent dealings. The charges against Cicolini were withdrawn and she was released from jail.

Her husband was committed for sentence in the District Court and he was granted bail. But yesterday in the District Court, the Crown said that Maxwell had again changed his plea to not guilty. This meant that the original charges had to be reinstated against he and his wife.

The couple appeared before Judge Finnane and pleaded not guilty to all five charges of defrauding four banks in Broken Hill of almost $2.5million.

In 2006 it is alleged that they used false documents to obtain a loan of $2million to buy Moorabie Station, 230km north of Broken Hill; $165,000 to buy a helicopter; $137,000 for a B-double cattle trailer; a $124,000 personal loan; and $28,278 to buy a Toyota Landcruiser. Also yesterday the couple were granted a request to have their trial heard in Sydney instead of Broken Hill.

This was opposed by the Crown on the grounds that their alleged offences were committed in the Broken Hill district and the case should be heard here. The trial was expected to take about four weeks and about 30 witnesses were to be called and Judge Finnane said such a large undertaking would be "impossible" for the local court house to accommodate.

The judge also said that the matter had been given wide publicity and that this would make it very difficult to find local jury members who had not heard about it. For the same reason, Maxwell would find it very hard to get a job in Broken Hill before his trial, he said.

Maxwell was ordered to report to local police twice a week while his wife was allowed to report to South Australian police by telephone once a week.

This was because she lived eight kilometres from Angaston with the couple's five children and had difficulty getting in to town to report in person.

A date for their trial in Sydney has yet to be set.

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