Club Marconi's ex-boss loses suspension bid

Club Marconi's former president Antonio "Tony" Campolongo, has failed in a Supreme Court challenge to revoke his suspension from the embattled Italian-community club that alleges serious wrongdoing during his time in the job.

Justice Julie Ward yesterday ordered Mr Campolongo to pay legal costs to Club Marconi after this month dismissing his attempt to annul the suspension of his membership.

Mr Campolongo, a former Fairfield mayor who holds a Medal of the Order of Australia, was elected Club Marconi president in 2000 and resigned in July 2010 amid serious allegations of wrongdoing.

The club's board suspended his membership in a November 2010 letter.

But Mr Campolongo's legal bid "to clear his name" backfired as Club Marconi's undisclosed allegations against him have now been made public.

According to Supreme Court documents, Mr Campolongo is alleged to have bought into the Great Western Hotel in Orange while president in 2006 and, by not declaring this, has breached the Registered Clubs Act.

Mr Campolongo is also accused of using Club Marconi's money to fund improvements to the pub.

During April 2010, Mr Campolongo allegedly facilitated or did not prevent $764.60 in expenses to be improperly reimbursed by the South West Italian Association, an affiliated club of Marconi.

Club Marconi allegedly paid for Mr Campolongo's trip to South Africa in 2010 on a false pretext that the trip was being covered by a supplier to the club.

Mr Campolongo is also accused of facilitating the payment of an unapproved bonus payment to a colleague and is accused of altering records for expenses regarding a Clubs NSW conference in Surfers Paradise in October 2009.

In February 2010, Mr Campolongo is accused of allegedly selling projection equipment at $5000 more than it was worth.

Mr Campolongo is also accused of making payments to a sacked colleague in March 2010 knowingly beyond her legal entitlement.

The club, that has been facing prolonged financial difficulties, has also made accusations against Marconi's ousted chief executive officer Deborah Feening and last year launched a Supreme Court action to recoup money it alleges she misappropriated.

Ms Feening has denied claims of irregularities.

Mr Campolongo was set to face a club disciplinary hearing in March this year but his last-minute court bid to annul the suspension, launched more than a year after learning his fate, delayed that hearing.

Barrister Mark Sneddon argued the suspension denied Mr Campolongo natural justice, Marconi's board demonstrated bias and failed to follow proper procedures.

Justice Julie Ward said the club conceded some procedures had not been met but she dismissed the matter on July 4.

"The practical effect of the way Mr Campolongo has conducted these proceedings, intentional or otherwise, has been to forestall the conduct of the proposed disciplinary proceedings," she said.

"There is simply no reason that has been shown as to why the March 2012 hearing should not have proceeded," she said.

Mr Campolongo, through CMC Lawyers, "vehemently denied the accusations" and declined to comment further.

A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed Fairfield detectives were "continuing investigations into an alleged misappropriation of funds" at Club Marconi.

Current Club Marconi president Vince Foti told Herald he was reluctant to comment as police investigations were ongoing.

"It's one hurdle over in this saga. Now hopefully the police can make a quick decision about the investigation as it is not good for the club," he said.

"We are trying to get over it and have moved on and that's what we are focused on," he said.

The Herald understands Mr Campolongo is expected to face the club's disciplinary hearing on August 7.

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