Former armed robber turned LJ Hooker Glen Waverley agent sentenced to three years jail

Former armed robber turned LJ Hooker Glen Waverley agent sentenced to three years jail
Former armed robber turned LJ Hooker Glen Waverley agent sentenced to three years jail

A former LJ Hooker real estate agent with a resumed drug habit has been jailed for five years. 

Ngo will be eligible to apply for parole after he has served at least three years.

The sentencing judge described his financial mismanagement akin to a Ponzi scheme.

Joseph Ngo, 37, also known as Tri Duc Ngo, managed accounts of six LJ Hooker franchises in Melbourne’s south-east, including Glen Waverley and Mount Waverley.

Between January 2015 and March 2016, just over $6 million was misappropriated from trust accounts linked to the six offices.

Ngo used just over $2 million of that on clothing, jewellery and drugs, including ice.

The alarm was only raised in April 2016 when Consumer Affairs Victoria was told that the business’ trust accounts were overdrawn.

In sentencing on Thursday, County Court judge Michael Bourke said Ngo’s behaviour was dishonest, harmful and prolonged.

He ruled Ngo needed to be condemned for what he had done as it breached the trust of the victims and their faith in the property system.

Ngo was addicted to heroin and cannabis earlier in life, the judge said, but despite his attempts at abstinence, he spent $300,000 on ice during his offending. 

After the sale of Ngo's property, the victims were needing to be repaid $2.1 million from the Victorian Property Fund at Victorian tax payer expense.

Judge Bourke ordered that Ngo repay that money while noting the chances of that compensation occurring were remote.

Ngo pleaded guilty to 48 charges under the estate agents act and two summary offences relating to taking a direct interest in the sales of property.

Defence counsel Erol Cinar had argued that Ngo had shown remorse, had no intention to return to real estate and had a severe mental condition, exacerbated by drug use.

Fairfax Media reported Ngo had been convicted in 2001 of armed robbery and attempted armed robbery, as well as heroin trafficking before that.

Judge Bourke said if not for an early guilty plea, Ngo would have been jailed for seven years.

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