Over four sodden years, Hazel Sanders held the key to providing a crucial piece of evidence in an apparent assassination attempt against the son of a Victoria state representative.
Eventually, she would agree to testify — in exchange for immunity from prosecution. So she testified. Prosecutors subpoenaed Sanders for a second time. The second time, the intelligence services and the Australian Federal Police gave her two “opportunities” to provide evidence to build a case, she said. Those “opportunities” were a pair of explosives and a kiddie pool bomb in her granddaughter’s pool.
Sanders hasn’t provided the ballistics or other physical evidence that ultimately helped catch a man accused of attempting to murder her grandson, Joshua Peterson, who served as an intern for her son, Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf, in 2014. But her testimony helped convict Edward Marceciante, 31, of attempting to murder Joshua Peterson and, separately, shoplifting at a shopping centre in Victoria. In June, Marceciante was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.
Her testimony in the case against Marceciante is detailed in a book by Curtis B. Hughes, “The Death of J.D. Morrison: A Family, a Man, and a Political Party in Peril.” She only agreed to testify after “invasion of privacy issues,” or that she feared “having the whole world all over me,” she said. Sanders said she remains fearful of another suspected conspiracy.
Sanders, 70, isn’t the only independent voice inside the Victorian Parliament House to have been caught up in a bizarre scandal. Bill Walker, who resigned after admitting to soliciting sexual favours from several women, was under federal investigation when he resigned as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Legislators later cleared him of wrongdoing. Another representative, Justin Simmons, left the House last year after he was charged with felony computer tampering and unrelated domestic violence cases.
Sanders, who is the only lawmaker to have had an active primary this year, said she believes the problem is underhanded tactics by Greenleaf and some of his colleagues.
“I still think Stewart Greenleaf misused the state police,” Sanders said. “Stewart Greenleaf knew about this; he was involved in it.”
Sanders said she gave investigators what they asked for, but “stepped aside” at the end of March 2013, three months after the prosecutors first approached her.
“I was following all laws and regulations and keeping my oath and protecting the public and protecting my family,” she said.
‘A Plea Deal for Political Affiliation’