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    A Magistrate has found a woman employed by 'porn king' Con Ange guilty of fraud charges amounting to almost $800,000 at Downing Centre Local Court.

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      fraud charges

      ‘Porn King’ Employee Guilty of Fraud Charges Totalling Almost $800,000

      Posted By , on May 31, 2021

      A Magistrate has found a Sydney woman guilty of fraud charges amounting to almost $800,000 at Downing Centre Local Court.

      45-year-old Neva Liana Lozzi faced 29 counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception based on hundreds of bank transfers she made while employed by ‘porn king’ Con Ange.

      The transactions were said to have occurred from 2016 until she was terminated in early 2020.

      The matter has now been adjourned till July 2021 when she will receive her sentence for fraud charges.

      Fraud Charges Laid

      In total, Ms Lozzi was charged with fraud totalling $787,571 which occurred until her employment was terminated. She was employed by Mr Ange in his adult retail business.

      The Downing Centre Local Court heard that the transactions included $3,700 rent for an exclusive Point Piper apartment, energy and phone bills, travel and accommodation expenses, superannuation, and payments to her own and her daughter’s bank accounts and her husband’s business.

      She claimed that Con Ange gave her permission to make these transactions and they were part of her agreed remuneration package.

      Ms Lozzi gave evidence that her boss preferred to pay cash so he could avoid paying employee entitlements. She also alleged that he had threatened to break her son’s nose if she did not return the tax component of her salary after her job ended.

      This was disputed by Mr Ange who claimed that she took the money while he was suffering from a serious illness, recovering from a common assault and his business being fire bombed.

      Neva Liana Lozzi Refutes Fraud Charges

      During closing submissions, Neva Liana Lozzi’s criminal lawyer argued Mr Ange was paying workers in cash, refusing to put them on the books and not submitting his tax returns, which meant he would do anything to reduce what official records showed he paid his employees.

      Lozzi had earlier told the court that when she was first employed by Mr Ange in 2014, she did not have a job title nor contract of employment, and was paid in cash until 2015.

      “Con asked if I could offset my cash salary against expenses that could be claimed by the company. At the time, my own expenses were a trip I was planning, booked through Flight Centre —” Ms Lozzi said.

      Magistrate Brett Shields interrupted her answer saying, “Can I just suggest that that … answer amounts to an admission of complicity in a fraud being perpetuated against the Commonwealth?” This reference to commonwealth fraud charges are commonly referred to as centrelink fraud charges.

      The prosecutor and the police officer in charge of the investigation exchanged a look. But after a brief adjournment, Ms Lozzi and her criminal defence lawyers pressed on.

      Mrs Lozzi detailed further cash payments including $418 for a sign to be displayed at her wedding, $2500 to pay for airfares, a $200 phone bill and $951 energy bill.

      She claimed Mr Ange also agreed to reimburse her credit card when she used it for business expenses.

      “The invoices being paid were offset or salary sacrificed what I would have been paid in cash,” Ms Lozzi said.

      In terms of her remuneration, she suggested that she asked for a salary of $150,000, but for the first year was only paid $70,000. She would then receive between $130,000 and $190,000 each year.

      Lozzi said her job title after the first year became “financial controller” and then “chief financial controller” of the Ange Group – various companies through which Mr Ange runs a chain of adult entertainment stores in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.  However, the prosecution suggested she was really a bookkeeper.

      Office Firebombed

      The Court heard evidence that the Crows Nest office where she worked was firebombed in 2016. Lozzi said Mr Ange suggested either ex-brothel owner Eddie Hayson or the son of another associate, Michael Kontos was responsible.

      Mr Ange was also assaulted, prompting him to leave the country for a period. He also was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2018.

      According to Mr Ange, Lozzi took advantage of his absence as a result of this incident and the subsequent absences.

      In 2018, after she split up from her husband, Ms Lozzi claimed she asked to be “put on the books” to provide proof of income to buy a house.

      “I said, ‘Now that my divorce is complete there’s no reason for me not to have complete transparency’. Con said he could not afford to put me on the books for the amount he was paying me. It would throw out his obligations for employee benefits.”

      She claimed that he eventually agreed to pay her a salary but she was required to deliver cash to the office in a coloured envelope each month.

      Threats to Kill

      Ms Lozzi’s employment ended in February 2020. Her evidence was that she confronted Con Ange about his behaviour after he returned from a trip to the Philippines.

      He allegedly threatened Ms Lozzi and her family and accused her of pocketing the tax and superannuation components of her on-the-books salary in contravention of what they had agreed.

      She also suggested that Mr Ange threatened to kill her and hurt her children, saying, “Con said to me, ‘Victor will find it hard to play sport with a broken nose, won’t he’…He called him Victor, but his name was Vincent.”

      Significantly, Ms Lozzi admitted under cross-examination that she had filed a false tax return.

      Con Ange Disputes Neva Lozzi’s Allegations

      Con Ange told the court he employed Ms Lozzi on a permanent part-time basis and paid her $750 a week to perform basic office tasks and organisation of finances, including timesheets and payments to employees.

      Magistrate Brett Shields said Lozzi was clearly “very nervous” in the witness box but her demeanour when giving evidence was nevertheless “troubling”.

      He said she had a “tendency to make speeches”, was “prone to exaggeration” and “sought to denigrate other people”, especially Mr Ange, all of which called into question her reliability and truthfulness.

      Mr Shields described Mr Ange as a “colourful character” who exhibited a “clear sense of personal betrayal” that a person he trusted would steal from him.

      While he found that Mr Ange did pay certain employees in a manner that was “highly irregular” and probably contravened employment law, he said there was “no commercial benefit” to the remuneration arrangement claimed by Lozzi.

      “The only consequence of such an arrangement is that a legal and legitimate cost to the business is converted to an illegal … cost,” he said.

      Lozzi’s employment cost wasn’t off the books, Mr Shields said; it was still on there, “albeit as falsified expenses of the company”.

      He said it was open to the court to accept Mr Ange’s evidence as truthful, “and I do so”.

      It was on this basis that he found Ms Lozzi guilty of the fraud charges.

      Jail for Fraud Charges?

      Given the large amount of money involved, it would seem almost inevitable that Ms Lozzi will receive a term of imprisonment. Looking at statistics since 2018, 32% of persons found guilty of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception were sentenced to some kind of imprisonment. 16% of persons were sentenced to full-time imprisonment. Only 10% of person received no conviction for fraud. 

      However, there have been cases where persons guilty of similar amounts have avoided jail. In May 2021, a bank employee who was found guilty of fraud charges amounting to approximately $600,000 avoided jail. You can read about that case by clicking here.  

      This is however an exceptional case where she was represented by specialist lawyers for fraud charges. Generally, fraud charges amounting to over $100,000 will result in full-time imprisonment. To speak to leading criminal lawyers you should contact Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823 or email info@astorlegal.com.au.

      Dishonestly Obtain Financial Advantage by Deception

      Fraud in New South Wales falls under the charge of ‘Obtaining financial advantage or property by deception’ pursuant to Section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). If you acted dishonestly to cause a financial advantage or disadvantage, the you can be found guilty of fraud.

      You can fight fraud charges in two ways. Firstly, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt:

      1. You received property or a financial advantage, OR

      2. You caused a financial loss, AND

      3. The gain or loss was caused by your actions, AND

      4. Those actions were dishonest

      Dishonesty is to be assessed according to standards of ordinary people and requires you to know your actions to be dishonest according to those standards.

      The following defences to fraud charges can be used:

      1. Causation: Your dishonest actions must be the main cause of the gain or loss. If this cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt, you will be found ‘not guilty’
      2. Claim of right: You were entitled to the property or financial advantage
      3. Duress: You were forced to commit the fraud;
      4. Necessity: Your actins were necessary in the circumstances.
      5. Mental illness defence: Some conditions (most commonly Bipolar Disorder) may give you delusions of grandiosity and cause you to commit fraud. At the time of the offending, if you do not appreciate the moral wrongfulness of your actions, you may be able to defend the charge.

      The maximum penalty for ‘obtaining financial advantage or property by deception’ is 10 years imprisonment when heard in the District Court.

      The maximum penalty in the Local Court is 2 years imprisonment for a single offence or 5 years for multiple offences.  

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