Real Estate Franchisee Apologises For Misusing More Than $800,000
The head of six real estate franchises has pleaded guilty to for misusing money meant to be held for vendors.
Former LJ Hooker franchisee Judy Nguyen pleaded guilty on Monday to misappropriating more than $800,000 of clients' money.
Her husband, Joseph Ngo was jailed for a minimum of three years last March for his part in the Ponzi-style scheme.
The couple were found to have taken purchasers’ money out of the real estate agency’s trust account -- money supposed to be held on behalf of vendors -- and paying it directly into their trading account.
After her trial began in May, the mother-of-four reached a last-minute plea deal with prosecutors. She pleaded guilty to misappropriating $809,016 in deposits in relation to 11 properties across Glen Waverley, Deer Park, Caroline Springs, Narre Warren, Berwick, Dandenong, Docklands and Parkdale.
The entire scheme resulted in a total loss of $2.1 million dollars. The Victorian property fund paid the money back to vendors, and then successfully sued LJ Hooker to recover the money.
After returning to court on Thursday for a pre-sentence hearing, Nguyen apologised to those affected.
"I truly apologise to all my former clients," she said outside court.
"I apologise to everyone, I mismanaged my company... I'm in a very bad situation and I also was a victim in the whole crisis."
In court, Nguyen explained her husband initiated the fraudulent scheme and started abusing ice while she was away from the business, looking after their newborn and being treated for cervical cancer.
When she returned to full time work in 2016, she became aware of the missing money, but embraced the criminal scheme.
Her barrister Alan Marshall said his client wanted to make good on the repayments and keep the business afloat.
“She came in at the fat end of the Ponzi scheme,” he said
“She tried to fix up a situation that before she arrived there was already out of hand.”
The defence asked the judge to consider imposing a community corrections order rather than a jail sentence.
The prosecution argued an immediate custodial sentence with a minimum term would more appropriate.
Nguyen will be sentenced on June 11th.