Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisale's decision to pretend to be a private eye hired by an escort to demand money from a taxi driver is almost beyond belief.
The 67-year-old had been a popular mayor credited with the "renaissance" of the city just west of Brisbane.
Now Pisasale will spend at least the next 12 months behind bars after being convicted of extortion.
Judge Brad Farr said Pisasale's decision to try to extort the man by posing as a private investigator in early 2017 was "almost incomprehensible".
He sentenced Pisasale on Thursday to two years' prison, suspended after 12 months.
Pisasale would have faced an additional six months behind bars had it not been for his history of public service and health problems, Judge Farr said.
The decision completed Pisasale's demise from local politician to prisoner.
"Because of your high political profile, this case has generated much media publicity, hence your fall from grace has been from a great height and very public," Judge Farr said on Thursday.
"Were it not for your exemplary history of community service I would have been minded to impose a sentence of two-and-a-half years.
"But I will reduce that by six months in recognition of that service and recognition of your health problems."
He was found guilty of dishonestly posing as a private investigator and demanding up to $10,000 for his escort friend Yutian Li from her former partner.
Pisasale claimed he demanded money from Sydney taxi driver Xin Li because it was "rightfully owed" to Yutian, a Singaporean woman the former politician made friends with after receiving escort services from her.
He also believed Xin owed her the cost of the private investigation to uncover that he was married during the relationship.
But a Brisbane District Court jury rejected his testimony, siding with prosecutors who argued Xin owed Yutian nothing and Pisasale's pursuit of him was dishonest.
Yutian and solicitor Cameron James McKenzie were also found guilty of extortion over the plot in which Li was threatened with court action if he didn't pay up.
Yutian was sentenced to 15 months' jail, suspended after serving seven months, while McKenzie received 18 months' jail suspended after serving nine months.
Yutian and Pisasale were motivated by a desire to get money for her to stay in Australia and leave the sex industry, the court was told.
He then called in McKenzie to give the scheme an "air of legitimacy".
Piasale was arrested and charged in June 2017.
He resigned weeks prior as the Ipswich mayor - a position he held for 13 years - after the Crime and Corruption Commission raided his office.
"Your counsel has described your pretence to be a private investigator as amateurish - that may be so," Judge Farr said.
"But it must be noted, were it not for the fact that your calls were being monitored by CCC investigators, purely coincidentally at that time, the offending conduct was likely never to have been discovered."
Australian Associated Press