Questions to be answered: Last year’s Parramatta Leagues Club elections are under investigation.

Questions to be answered: Last year’s Parramatta Leagues Club elections are under investigation. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

Three former Eels employees have been identified as being central to the inquiry into allegations of systematic membership tampering and vote rigging at Parramatta Leagues Club, which has now been taken over by NSW Police.

Detectives told PLC chief executive Bevan Paul on Thursday they would begin their own investigation, armed with potentially damning CCTV footage and other digital records collected in an exhaustive internal club inquiry.

The development comes a month after The Herald revealed claims of extensive backdating and creating of fraudulent memberships in the lead-up to last year's PLC elections and a break-in and theft at the club's archives facility.

Paul confirmed on Friday the Eels' investigation, run by a former detective from the Major Crime Squad and IT personnel, was now complete and findings had been passed on to police. 

Among the conclusions of the internal audit are:

186 memberships were tampered with to varying degrees, from backdating genuine memberships on the club database (members must be financial for three years to vote) to the fraudulent creation of new memberships; 

46 people with memberships found to have been tampered with attended this year's annual general meeting on May 5, where a raft of resolutions proposed by the PLC board were defeated and chairman Steve Sharp was heckled. The 46 accounted for more than 20 per cent of the total attendees at the AGM;

33 of the members had memberships that were not paid as required by the Registered Clubs Act, not board approved as required by the club constitution, had their joining dates backdated permitting them to vote, had a photograph that was not taken at the club as required, and swiped their card and were shown on CCTV footage to have attended the AGM;

12 of those 46 who attended the AGM asked on the night to be given a new membership card with a new photo, according to statements from club employees and membership records.

The tampering of records is understood to have mainly taken place on April 4 and April 5, 2013, just weeks before the PLC elections on May 11, and the Eels investigation has found that the bulk of the transactions in question were conducted on a single club laptop computer. It has also been discovered that an additional card printer was purchased, leading those involved in the inquiry to believe that much of the fradulent activity took place remotely.  

Police have been told the names of three former Parramatta employees who could potentially assist them with their investigation.

While police are now involved and have been given evidence relating to 33 of the memberships over potential breaches of the Crimes Act, Parramatta are also likely to write to the full 186 members in question and ask them to substantiate their credentials. They face having their memberships cancelled and being excluded from the Leagues Club if they cannot provide evidence supporting the legitimacy of their membership.

The Herald reported last month that many of the memberships found to have been tampered with belonged to family members, friends and associates of former PLC chairman Roy Spagnolo, whose four-year reign ended when he was beaten in a closely contested election in May 2013. 

Six of the memberships backdated to set a joining date in March 2010 have the surname Spagnolo. Others include Spagnolo's brother-in-law Patrick Agostino, Spagnolo's friend Roy Mittiga and six others with that surname, real estate agent Pat Sergi and three other Sergis, relatives of Spagnolo's friends George Gaitanos and Vince Lombardo and the porn king Con Ange.

Three Libertinis were also among the altered memberships found. PLC director Mario Libertini resigned at last month's board meeting, citing increased work commitments.

Spagnolo, banned last October from holding PLC directorship for two years, remains chairman of the Parramatta District Rugby League Club.

Meanwhile, the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, which was already investigating alleged improprieties from the Spagnolo administration, is understood to have widened the scope of its inquiry into Parramatta to take in other matters including the Eels' findings on alleged vote rigging.

"OLGR continues to progress its investigation which it will finalise as soon as it is in a position to do so," a spokesperson for OLGR said.