Townsville Bulletin

GREAT BARRIER RORT

Prominent climate scientist charged over $ 100k AIMS theft

- SAMANTHA HEALY

A PROMINENT Townsville climate scientist accused of ripping off his Federal Government employer for more than seven years will face court next month.

The Townsville Bulletin can reveal Dr Daniel Michael Alongi, 59, was arrested by the Australian Federal Police on September 6 after search warrants were executed at his home in Annandale and at his office at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences. Dr Alongi ( right) was charged with obtaining a financial advantage from a Commonweal­th entity, namely AIMS, by deception.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonme­nt.

He has also been charged with one count of dealing with the proceeds of crime worth $ 100,000 or more, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.

American- born Dr Alongi has been a staff member at AIMS, a Commonweal­th research facility based at Cape Cleveland, since 1989.

His LinkedIn account lists his position as Senior Principal Research Scientist but his name has since been removed from the AIMS staff register.

Dr Alongi is accused of obtaining a financial advantage from AIMS by deception from July 1, 2008, and September 6, 2015. It is also alleged he dealt with money known to be the proceeds of a crime.

It is not known how much money Dr Alongi is accused of taking from AIMS but the proceeds of crime charge itself relates to missing funds worth more than $ 100,000.

Dr Alongi was granted bail in Townsville Magistrate­s Court on September 8 and ordered to surrender his passport.

Dr Alongi’s arrest is expected to come as a surprise to many in the local sciences field.

As a scientist, he has been published in numerous national and internatio­nal journals.

His research focuses have been the Great Barrier Reef, mangroves, coastal ecosystems and the effect of climate change.

In 2005, he revealed that researcher­s had unearthed 9000- year- old mangroves in old river channels that were swamped when sea levels rose after the last ice age.

An AIMS spokeswoma­n said Dr Alongi’s position had been suspended pending the court proceeding­s.

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