A major ecstasy importer caught smuggling millions of pills in tomato cans from Italy is the youngest person to be freed via links to the Lawyer X saga.
- Salvatore Agresta was sentenced to 12 years in prison for importing ecstasy pills in tomato cans
- He was once represented by Nicola Gobbo, who provided the Victoria Police with the shipping papers for the medication
- He was released with a $ 400,000 guarantee
Salvatore Agresta was released on bail by the Victoria Court of Appeals while appealing his 2007 conviction of importing cans of tomato, which was the world’s largest ecstasy attack at the time.
He was released with the promise of a $ 400,000 cash guarantee.
Agresta was sentenced to 12 years without parole for his part in the drug consortium led by Pasquale Barbaro and Rob Karam.
He is now appealing for conviction, arguing with other prominent Syndicate members that they would never have been caught without their once-trusted attorney Nicola Gobbo approaching the Victoria Police Department about their plans.
He argued that his non-probationary period for importing tomato cans ended in October and any additional time – if his appeal was successful – would not be approved.
The appeal is not expected to be heard before the end of 2021
Prosecutor Michael Wilson said the situation involved drug trafficking with links to organized crime.
Real estate linked to Agresta or a relative should be offered as a guarantee rather than $ 400,000 in cash from “an employee” in a situation where Agresta has no money herself, he said.
But appeals court president Chris Maxwell said it was not an insubstantial amount of money, and Agresta’s release included other conditions, including handing over his passport and not leaving the state.
Agresta’s case – which will likely not go before December 2021 – is complicated by a later drug-related conviction. His two sentences were combined into one.
Agresta was convicted of his role in the 4.4-tonne shipment of ecstasy tablets from Italy to Melbourne in 2007. (Delivered)
Prosecutors argue that the only way to overturn the sentence is to overturn the tomato cans conviction.
Agresta’s attorney, Marcus Dempsey, said if that happened only the later verdict would apply and he would now be eligible for parole.
He also accused prosecutors of attempting to quarantine aspects of the wrongdoing so that each element does not constitute a miscarriage of justice.
“But of course it doesn’t work that way,” he said.
Nicola Gobbo provided “key information”
The main piece of evidence at the trial was the shipping documents Ms. Gobbo provided to the Victoria Police, which led to the discovery of the containers that contained the medicines.
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In addition, Ms. Gobbo had represented Agresta in a petition for bail and later in a joint trial against Agresta’s co-defendant Karam.
Mr Dempsey said Ms Gobbo had given police documents – received from Karam – and also passed phone numbers on, which enabled Agresta to appear on Victoria Police’s radar for the first time.
“It’s not the inclusion of a bit of information, it’s … key information from a key player in this dispute,” Dempsey said.
“We know this happened and it was not disclosed and it has not been disclosed for years.”
He noted that Agresta was one of 1,011 people identified as potentially affected by the conduct by Attorney X’s royal commission, or Ms. Gobbo and the Victoria Police Department.