Two weeks after receiving the bottle of Grange Hermitage that would lead to his resignation as premier, Barry O'Farrell was preparing to appoint the man who bought the extravagant gift, businessman Nick Di Girolamo, to a well-paid position on a government board.
A May 3, 2011, email from the director general of Mr O'Farrell's department, Chris Eccles, introduces Mr Di Girolamo to senior departmental officers as ''our replacement board member''. Attached is a biography and photograph of Mr Di Girolamo forwarded by Mr O'Farrell's then chief-of-staff, Peter McConnell.
When Mr Di Girolamo's name was raised for a board appointment in the May email, Mr O'Farrell had failed to declare that only two weeks earlier he had been the recipient of a $3000 gift from Mr Di Girolamo.
The email raises further questions about the former Premier's claim that he cannot remember the lavish gift, which the Independent Commission Against Corruption this week revealed was delivered to Mr O'Farrell's then Roseville home on April 20.
The name of the board to which Mr Di Girolamo was to be appointed in May 2011 is not known and he was not installed on a board that year. But documents show that by March 2012, Mr Di Girolamo was considered for a directorship of Sydney Ports Corporation.
Briefing notes to treasurer Mike Baird - sworn in as Premier on Thursday - reveal a selection committee which included the former Greiner government minister Robert Webster, then a senior executive at recruitment firm Korn/Ferry, ranked Mr Di Girolamo last out of six candidates.
He ''has legal experience but in relatively narrow areas of practice. Does not have relevant industry experience and does not fill the current skills gaps on SPC's board. Likely to be suitable for other smaller boards''.
Three months later an opening arose when corruption allegations forced the resignation of the now jailed union boss Michael Williamson, who had been appointed to the State Water Corporation in the last days of the Labor government by treasurer Eric Roozendaal.
Mr Baird and then finance minister Greg Pearce signed off on the appointment of Mr Di Girolamo to a three-year $100,000 directorship of State Water Corporation.
''[Mr Di Girolamo] has legal and water sector experience,'' the briefing note to Mr Baird states. ''He is currently a director of Australian Water Holdings and Chairman of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry''.
Mr Di Girolamo began as a director of State Water Corporation in July 2012.
Two years earlier, in October 2010, AWH donated $10,000 to the campaign of the then opposition water spokeswoman Katrina Hodgkinson, a Nationals MP who holds the rural seat of Burrinjuck - hundreds of kilometres from north-west Sydney.
After the 2011 election Ms Hodgkinson was appointed water minister with responsibility for State Water Corporation. She has previously said the donation was made to the Nationals and not her personally. The Nationals have since announced they would return the donation.
For weeks leading up to his resignations this week, the former premier has done his utmost to distance himself from Mr Di Girolamo, but a Herald investigation paints a different picture.
As a result of the current sensational corruption inquiry, Mr Di Girolamo is a walking pestilence with politicians from both sides of the fence eager to dissociate themselves from the one-time head of AWH.
But it wasn't always like that. Although he vehemently denied under oath receiving the $3000 bottle of wine Mr Di Girolamo sent him on April 20, 2011, a handwritten thank-you note from Mr O'Farrell confirmed he had not told the truth.
Apart from thanking Mr Di Girolamo for the "wonderful wine", Mr O'Farrell also thanked him for ''all [underlined twice] your support.'' That support included a successful fund-raising dinner hosted by Mr Di Girolamo at the five-star restaurant Rockpool in early December 2010, only months before the election. AWH, which was by now one-third owned by the family of corrupt former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, tipped in $30,000 for this event.
If the bottle of wine had not arrived on that April day just before Easter, 2011, as Mr O'Farrell claimed, Mr Di Girolamo had the perfect opportunity to ask him about it when the pair, and others, had dinner at Flying Fish restaurant on May 11.
This dinner was the result of a charity auction on February 16 where Mr O'Farrell had donated himself as a dinner prize. This was where the now infamous photo on Mr O'Farrell hamming it up with Mr Di Girolamo and Ipswich's Labor mayor Paul Pisasale.
The prize was part of a fund-raiser put on by the Italian Chamber of Commerce, of which Mr Di Girolamo was president, to raise money for Queensland flood victims. The guest of honour was Mr Pisasale whom Mr Di Girolamo and Eddie Obeid jnr had been lobbying to win a contract to provide water infrastructure to a new housing estate near Ipswich, in Queensland. The $120,000 AWH spent on their Ipswich plans, including on ''chauffeur services'', was billed back to government-owned utility Sydney Water.
Mr Pisasale's register of interests reveals six occasions when AWH entities provided hospitality such as dinner.
AWH records show that at the fund-raiser a payment of $2727 was made for ''Live auction won by NAD [Di Girolamo's initials] for dinner with Barry O'Farrell.''
Mr O'Farrell's office may not have been aware of Mr Di Girolamo's successful bid as they recently told the Herald: "The charity auction item was purchased by several prominent Australian-Italian businessmen. Mr Di Girolamo was not one of them."
When asked by the Independent Commission Against Corruption counsel assisting, Geoffrey Watson, SC, if he had a recollection of a dinner at Flying Fish with Mr Di Girolamo, Mr O'Farrell seemed unwilling to mention his name. "With, with members of the Australian Italian Chamber of Commerce," he said.
Mr Watson persevered: "Was he one of them?" Mr O'Farrell replied, "I think so."
August 12, 2010: O'Farrell has an hour-long meeting with Nick Di Girolamo, Arthur Sinodinos, Brad Hazzard and Peter McConnell (chief of staff to O'Farrell) about Australian Water Holdings.
September 28, 2010: O'Farrell writes a letter of support for Di Girolamo's business.
December 3, 2010: Di Girolamo throws a fund-raiser dinner for Barry O'Farrell at Rockpool.
February 16, 2011: O'Farrell photographed with Di Girolamo at the Italian Chamber of Commerce Queensland flood appeal dinner. Di Girolamo pays $2727 in a ''live auction'' for dinner with O'Farrell.
March 26: O'Farrell wins the election and becomes NSW Premier.
April 20: Di Girolamo sends a $3000 bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange Hermitage to O'Farrell's Roseville home as a congratulatory gift. O'Farrell writes a note to Di Girolamo, thanking him for the gift.
May 3: Peter McConnell forwards Di Girolamo's re´sumé´´ to the head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Chris Eccles. Eccles forwards the re´sumé´´ to senior staff, noting Di Girolamo is ''our replacement board member''.
May 11: Di Girolamo, O'Farrell and others dine at Flying Fish for the dinner bought in February.
May 27: Di Girolamo, O'Farrell, McConnell and Greg Pearce meet in Parliament House to discuss Australian Water Holdings.
March 2012: Di Girolamo put forward for a directorship of Sydney Ports Corporation but ranked least-appropriate candidate.
July 2012: Mike Baird and Pearce sign off on Di Girolamo's appointment to a $100,000 job on the State Water Corporation board.