Singer Paulini Curuenavuli has pleaded guilty to bribing a government official to unlawfully obtain a driver’s licence.
The former Australian Idol contestant and current star of The Bodyguard musical appeared in person at Mount Druitt Local Court in Sydney’s west on Monday morning.
The 34-year-old sat quietly as her barrister Lisa-Claire Hutchinson entered the guilty plea on her behalf.
Police issued Curuenavuli with a court attendance notice in June, almost a year after she paid a Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) customer service worker $850 for an unrestricted NSW driver’s licence.
Court documents reveal the singer held a NSW Learner’s permit until March 2016 when it was suspended after she was caught driving unaccompanied and without L plates displayed.
The documents state that Curuenavuli was put in touch with RMS customer service employee Faletausala Feesili Vaifale through her nephew.
The performer contacted Viafale by text message on July 6, 2016 and was told she could arrange a C class unrestricted license for $850.
The documents state that Viafale told her to go to the Mount Druitt RMS office and wait at counter 10, which she did one week later.
When Viafale served Curuenavuli, she added an American driver’s license number to Curuenavuli’s records and issued an unrestricted NSW license.
Curuenavuli was charged in June 2017 with one count of corruptly giving a benefit to an agent, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.
On Monday, Ms Hutchinson told the court the penalty for her client should be a fine because that is how other people who obtained unlawful licenses as part of this scheme had been punished.
She asked the magistrate for a long adjournment before sentencing so her client could complete a traffic offender’s program and obtain her driver’s license lawfully.
She also explained that Curuenavuli was committed to six to seven performances of The Bodyguard Musical a week in Melbourne until November.
Magistrate Brian Van Zuylen said he was not opposed to a delay in sentencing, and agreed to hand down his decision in December.
Outside court the singer said “no comment” when asked how she felt about the charge and if she wanted to apologise for her offending.
Faletausala Feesili Vaifale, 27, pleaded guilty to three charges last year.
She was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention for making a false document to influence the exercise of public duty, corruptly receiving a benefit while an agent, and dealing with the proceeds of crime
Viafale no longer works for the RMS and has been disqualified from working in civic office for seven years.
Court documents reveal she received $34,582 from the scheme between June 2015 and July 2016.