More than 1000 police fraud charges against Framlingham Indigenous leader Geoff Clark, his wife Trudi and two of their sons have been adjourned for further hearing in Warrnambool court on May 31.
Mr Clark, Trudi and their two sons Aaron and Jeremy appeared in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court on Friday morning for a committal mention hearing.
They have been charged with 1170 offences, with Mr Clark alone charged with 533.
Magistrate Steve Raleigh adjourned further hearing of the case until May 31, for another committal mention.
He suggested the case may have to be moved to Melbourne due to the huge number of charges and the complexity of the case.
This is going to go on for years and we're already broke now. My boys are raising families, they're f---ing upstanding citizens.Geoff Clark
There are 19,000 pages in the police brief of evidence.
Mr Clark indicated outside court he would be pleading not guilty to all charges.
He said he had spent a lifetime working for the community and the case was irreparably splitting the Framlingham community.
Mr Clark said he expected the case would take years to be completed and he was prepared to represent himself.
"This is crushing to the community," he said.
"This is going to go on for years and we're already broke now. My boys are raising families, they're f---ing upstanding citizens.
"This is 10 trials in one, there are 100,000 exhibits. Who is going to sit down and f---ing read that.
"We see this as a show trial. When we're faced with such a tragic situation with Aboriginal affairs, it's especially disappointing to me and my family that we're faced with this."
Police major fraud and extortion squad investigation Operation Omega was sparked out of initial complaints made to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria by Violet Clark in 2012.
Those initial allegations related to rent from a Cooper Street shed, wages paid to Trudi Clark, although it was claimed she wasn't working at the Framlingham trust and was in fact at times living in South Australia, and in relation to what has become known as "Geoff's Deck".
It's understood about $115,000 was spent on a deck at the Clark family home, including a Merbau wooden decking, bar, kitchen, grill, coffee and a pizza oven. The deck is almost as big as the house itself.
An independent audit was commission by global accounting firm BDO which uncovered "anomalies" in relation to the Framlingham trust.
That information was passed on to major fraud and Operation Omega was sparked.
Legal fees of about $550,000 from separate court matters since 2002 are a key feature of the brief and relate to about 25 charges.
Mr Clark was the chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in the early 2000s.
He became involved in a court case after being charged by police in relation to an incident at the Criterion Hotel following a day at the May racing carnival in 2002.
Leading barrister Robert Richter, QC, represented Mr Clark.
Police allege that there are issues about the payment of those legal fees and whether community money was used to pay them.
Then in 2007, Mr Clark was involved in another court case, involving civil litigation which led to Mr Clark being ordered to pay $20,000 and legal costs of about $200,000 to a plaintiff.
Mr Clark then declared himself bankrupt.
Police allege Mr Clark made statements about his assets and liabilities and organised his pay to go to Trudi.
Almost 400 charges relate to Mr Clark or Trudi obtaining advantage through cash payments or payments of bills for phones, rates, insurance and tradesmen.
Statements to bankruptcy trustees and in Federal Court are alleged to have minimised his assets, maximised his liabilities and even included the liability in relation to the $500,000 in legal fees.
Other statements related to ownership of homes at Purnim, Wangoon and Halls Gap.
Mr Clark claims he never owned them but they were in his name for the Framlingham aboriginal community.
There are also allegations in relation to Framlingham Trust shares, which allowed Mr Clark to retain control of the trust for many years.
He has been charged with three counts of perjury.
The shares were allegedly valued at $19,000, $47,000 and $412,000.
Police allege he separately committed perjury in relation to his assets in January 2007.
Police allege that funds from a housing project in Halls Gap for maintenance and repair were diverted to Mr Clark to be spent on his deck.
It's also alleged that $50,000 was diverted from the Halls Gap housing project.
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