EXCLUSIVE: The use of NSW Police’s controversial Fixated Persons Investigations Unit has been likened to a “proto-fascist squadron” and “political goon squad” with yet another horrifying story of how it has been used to prevent public knowledge of political and police corruption. Disturbingly, the claims this time centre around a journalist who was forced into a mental hospital and then force-fed powerful psychotropic drugs after he truthfully blew the whistle on endemic corruption at a council in Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands.
Reprehensibly, a number of the people alleged to be behind the shocking abuse of power are close mates with the recently resigned and allegedly corrupt NSW deputy premier, John Barilaro, and were also involved in the despicable harassment of Friendlyjordies producer, Kristo Langker.
This major investigation into how the ecosystem of corruption operates within politics and the police from the regions of NSW to Sydney and beyond is presented by Melanie Coutts and Serkan Ozturk.
Just five years ago, regional journalist Adam Greenwood had a happy home life and was worth $700k net. Now he is broke, homeless, and on the dole. After NSW Police’s Fixated Persons Unit were set upon him, used to shut him up and then forcibly cart him off to a mental institution where he was force-fed powerful psychotropic drugs.
His supposed crime, or delusions?
His campaign to truthfully blow the whistle on large-scale, widespread and endemic corruption taking place around the town of Bowral in NSW’s picturesque Southern Highlands.
Corrupt councilors are alleged to have colluded with dodgy property developers, criminals and bent police officers for years to keep a gravy train in the tens of millions of dollars flowing for the benefit of the so-called ‘Bowral Mafia’ – otherwise known as “The Shady Bunch”. And it has links all the way to highest levels of the NSW Government, with senior staff of recently resigned and allegedly corrupt NSW deputy premier, John Barilaro, deeply implicated.
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Adam has faced a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuit for many years to prevent him from telling his true life tale of political and police corruption. A story that stretches from the regions of NSW to the big smoke of Sydney and goes right to the top. Journalists, conservationists, and activists around the world are silenced by an avalanche of procedural abuses. Powerful corporations and governments often target those brave enough to report white-collar crime today.
For Adam, it all began in 2016 when he owned a home, worked as a journalist for local newspaper, ‘Latte Life’ and reported the questionable conduct of councillors at Wingecarribee Shire.
The former Mittagong Chamber of Commerce President, Charlie Johns was responsible for the attack ad signs smearing Cr Garry Turland’s opponents. Two days after it was reported, Charlie purchased, ‘Latte Life Southern Highlands‘. When his purchase failed to stop Latte Life from publishing, he sent a letter to the advertisers with threats to boycott their businesses.
It wasn’t the first time Charlie was in the news for his questionable activities with the Council. When his recycling company changed names, a debt for over $24,000 to the council was wiped. It was noted incorrectly that the business owner had ceased trading and was unable to pay.
Charlie Johns was also believed to be the author of a letter sent to former councillor Jim Mauger, ‘Do us all a big favour. Your immediate resignation could save you a lot of further pain & save us a lot of reporting. You would need to make it happen by Friday the 23 September to stop any further action.’The police officer declined to investigate Jim Maugers complaint, because they didn’t believe the letter was a threat.
Charlies’ friend Garry Turland was a developer, builder, and a councillor. It’s a stretch not to view this enmeshment of roles as a one stop shop for development applications. Garry’s property stood to benefit from the Station St upgrade. In 2015, he declared his property as a significant pecuniary interest and abstained from voting. In 2017, he declared his property as a less than significant interest and continued to vote on the Station St upgrade, a breach to the councils Code of Conduct.
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Prior to Jock Sowter’s role as the Director of Strategy to John Barilaro, he was a campaign assistant for Mayor Duncan Gair in 2012. He was also a witness for the Operation Keppel investigation in 2020 for his role in liaising with Louise Waterhouse. His father Murray Sowter lobbied for the rezoning of his land unsuccessfully in 2010 for the Chelsea Gardens / Coomungie development. Over the years, Duncan voted in favour of the project without declaring ties with the Sowter family. A letter was sent to the mayor and deputy mayor concerning at least 15 occasions between 2007 and 2017 where Duncan failed to declare his relationship with the Sowter family. Leading up to the 2016 council elections, the story made it to the front page of the local news. For the first time in many years, Duncan Gair was no longer the mayor.
Insincere Settlement Attempts
Summarizing his findings into a four-minute parody, neither Adam nor those around him could have predicted what was to follow. “It took 15 minutes to write the song and four hours of production” he said.
The first legal action Adam recalls was when YouTube removed the video, ‘The Strife and Crimes of Duncan Gair‘, “I thought that was the end of it”. The legal letters began. Adam recalled that he offered $1000 to settle the case, but they wanted $50,000. “The only way I could afford $50,000 was selling my home and if I was going to do that, then I may as well spend it fighting in court”.
Despite using the proceeds from the sale of his home to pay top silk Sue Crysanthou SC, the strongest components of his defence were struck out. It was not disputed Duncan Gair admitted the following about another Councillor, “I supported him on his projects for 20 years. 20 years! Helped him make his millions!”. The issue in the trial was whether the evidence left was tantamount to ‘corrupt’ or ‘criminal’ behaviour.
WATCH “THE STRIFE & CRIMES OF DUNCAN GAIR”
It was 2018 when Charlie Johns made a complaint to the police against Adam for vocally stating his actions amounted to criminal behaviour in public at the Council chambers and in the supermarket.
Charlie made no allegations of violence or threats to harm. He conceded in his statement that Adam was quiet when the meeting began. To support his application Charlie writes, “Over the course of 2016 Adam was making all sorts of allegations against myself and other members of the Wingecarribee Shire Council. As a result of some of these allegations a deformation(sic) case was commenced against Adam”. These orders were later varied to restrain him from writing anything about Charlie Johns. The officer in charge was John Klepzarek. Adam had written to him, asking him to investigate the council. He later submitted complaints to the police, ICAC and the Local Government Authority (LGA) to no avail.
SLAAP Suit: Used by the wealthy and powerful in a bid to hide corrupt activities and possible criminal behaviour
When Adam continued to post on Facebook about his situation, he was charged with multiple breaches of the AVO in early 2020. All offenses were related to Facebook posting. Members of the police supplied statements in overwhelming support of Charlie Johns and littered the material with complaints of their own. Adam referred to the police statements as, “Stitched up by dirty cops and the brief contains continual mentions of me complaining about being stitched up by dirty cops”. Court documents showed Adam had, ‘No fixed abode’ at the time.
The police were offended with the parody video, ‘The Shady Bunch’ and the comments that suggested their actions were less than transparent. One police officer’s statement highlighted the level of attention towards Adam Greenwood’s case. She was on leave when the video was first received by the police. Inspector Klepzarek discussed the video in the morning of her first day back.
WATCH & LISTEN TO “THE SHADY BUNCH” PARODY SONG
Misuse of Other Resources
It was August 2020 when he was arrested by the Fixated Persons Unit. Sergeant Greg Macnamara under the command of Klepzarek was believed to have issued the direction. Adam was in confinement for three days at Campbelltown hospital and force fed powerful, mind-altering drugs. He doesn’t remember the name of the medication he was given, only that it was wafer like.
Detective Senior Constable Elliott Merrett threatened Adam with more charges, “With regards to being locked up for three days, Merrett threatened me with more charges and further incarceration if I didn’t take the Shady Bunch song down from YouTube”. SC Elliott was also involved in the Fixated Persons Unit arrest of Jordan Shanks’ producer, Kristo Langker.
The final defamation judgement was made on 1st of October 2020 against Adam Greenwood without his presence or representation. He refused to suffer in silence the repercussions of corruption on the community and for that he lost everything.
When Duncan was asked why he went to the Supreme court when the jurisdiction was in the District court he said, “We had to go to the Supreme court because he wouldn’t take down the original post, so it cost us $1500 to get the darn thing taken down”.
On the 10th of January, Charlie Johns passed away. The police tried to claim he had breached the orders three days later. The breach was thrown out.
Wingecarribee Shire Council Suspended
Thankfully, he wasn’t the only member of the community troubled by the corruption at Wingecarribee Shire Council. “People I didn’t know came over and thanked me in the street” he said. There was a petition to sack the council in 2018, it was signed by 500 residents.
After the 2020 bushfires, Duncan Gair announced a mayoral relief fund. He donated $50,000 from the council to the fund and then distributed the funds with cash cards. In a review on Bushfire recovery efforts the author noted, ‘There is no evidence that cash cards were distributed to fire affected residents in Wingello’.
WATCH & LISTEN TO ADAM GREENWOOD EXPLAIN HIS HARROWING STORY
Following serious concerns about the council’s ability to function, Shelley Hancock made the decision to suspend Wingecarribee council on the 3rd of March this year.
The small business report revealed, ‘A lack of transparency and consistency led to businesses speculating there is favouritism in the prioritisation process’. The Finch report stated on the upgrade of the Civic centre, “Governance oversight and management reporting on this significant and potentially contentious project between 2016 and 2019 lacked transparency”.
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It was stated in the minutes by the administrator of the Inquiry Viv, “..a good example of how out of touch Councillors were with their constituency, was when a resident made their views known to a Councillor about the Station Street matter, the reply stated… “and I am the one with the VOTE so u don’t count”.
Earnest Consulting disclosed in the Second Report on Planning, Development and Regulatory Services that the public could have a perception of corruption based on the councils lack of transparency, ‘It is acknowledged that legal advice may suggest to limit access, however this simply leads to the suspicion that Council is trying to suppress information’.
Adam made a complaint to Wingecarribee Council when they took down minutes prior to 2015. All previous minutes dating as far back as 2011 can be located here.
When provided with the archive link, he exclaimed to True Crime News Weekly, “Oh my God. You’ve just put me on to the motherlode.”