Former ‘Australian Idol’ Paulini could face jail time over alleged bribery

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Paulini
Australian Idol contestant Paulini sings inside the Opera House at the Australian Idol Finals in Sydney November 19, 2003. Reuters/Edwina Pickles/Pool

Former “Australian Idol” contestant Paulini Curuenavuli could face a maximum jail sentence of seven years if found guilty of bribing a government employee. The singer allegedly bribed an NSW Roads and Maritime Services employee with $800 to get a fake NSW driver’s licence, despite not being qualified to be issued one.

NSW police said a CCTV footage captured Curuenavuli in July 2016 as she walked into the Roads & Maritime Services office in Mt Druitt. She allegedly sent money into the bank account of the RMA employee named Faletausala Vaifale.

Curuenavuli will face court in Sydney next week. Gangs Squad detectives served her with a court­attendance ­notice on June 30, just days before she sang the national anthem at the final of State of Origin match in Brisbane.

She is due to face Mount Druitt Local Court on August 16. Michael Korn, her legal representative, told The Daily Telegraph his client was taking the allegation very seriously.

“She’s aware of the gravity of the charges and she has instructed us as her legal representatives to treat the matter with the utmost seriousness,” Korn said. Curuenavuli recently posted a snap on Instagram of herself smiling after a workout.

Meanwhile, Vaifale was already under police investigation for providing fake licenses to friends and associates of the Rebels bikie gang, The Daily Telegraph has learned. She was reportedly being looked at as part of an enquiry into a number of shootings in Western Sydney that involve Rebels and Finks bikies. There is no suggestion Curuenavuli is associated with any gang or bike-related activity.

Court documents show Vaifale doled out 46 fake licences to family members, friends and bikies between June 2015 and July 2016. She usually made between $500 and $2,000 for every fraudulent transaction.

Curuenavuli grabbed fourth place in the first season of “Australian Idol.” It was followed by a number one single “Angel Eyes” and several albums.

During her “Idol” days, Curuenavuli was at the centre of one of the most controversial moments in the reality show as judge Ian Dickson was giving her harsh feedback. Most recently, she was chosen as the lead actor in the national touring production of “Bodyguard: The Musical,” which is set to close in Brisbane this weekend.

It is not the first that an Idol alumnus had trouble with the law. Third season winner Kate DeAraugo was charged with driving under the influence of drugs in 2015.

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