27.12.2018 at 00:19
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Bogus Property Developer Robs Football Club And Friends Of $1 Million

Carrum Downs woman imprisoned over 52 charges related to a fake investment scheme.

Maureen Johnston, of Carrum Downs, Victoria, has been sentenced to imprisonment after she pleaded guilty before the County Court.

Mrs Johnston and her husband Douglas made lots of friends at the Collingwood Football club. And then took their money.

She was a VIP at the Melbourne Crown Casino, where she was a member of the exclusive "Black Room" which is an invitation-only club where big spenders play pokies.

She reportedly enjoyed free food and drink, access to exclusive casino clubs, and members-only concierge service.

It requires spending a minimum amount of money every 6 months to remain eligible for that status.

An Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) investigation found that Mrs Johnston, who was once directory of Small Business Pty Ltd and Investment Nominees (USA) Pty Ltd, convinced victims to invest money in property developments in the US and Australia.

They formed close associations within the football club, and then used those associations to get people to "invest" their money.

But the funds were not put into investments. Instead, Mrs Johnston and her husband spent the money on gambling and credit card debt.

The total amount reported to have been taken was $1,027,000.

The prosecutor was the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Judge Wilmots said Mrs Johnston's actions were "intentionally dishonest and blatantly opportunistic", and that if it were not for her guilty plea, she would have been sentenced to 7 years with at least 3 years before possibility of parole.

She noted that Mrs Johnston had b befriended the victims before exploiting them for personal gain, including her own house cleaner and a patient she had met in hospital.

She said that one victim's description of her behaviour as "absolutely ghoulish, atrocious, and heartless" was very understandable.

Mrs Johston was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, with 2 years before possibility of parole.

Her husband is scheduled to be tried in April.

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