Tony Mokbel, the high-rolling criminal who escaped from Australia to Greece on a yacht and managed to evade arrest for more than a year was dealt a 30 year prison sentence by Victorian Supreme Court Judge Simon Whelan. The self confessed drug syndicate boss is to remain in prison at least until 2033, before he is eligible for parole.
Following years of running a massive methamphetamine operation, Mokbel finally received his sentence (streamed live on the internet) on Tuesday 3 July in front of the Supreme Court. As he read out Mokbel’s sentence, Judge Whelan commented had Mokbel dealt in crime-free businesses, he would have been a very successful businessman.
“You conducted yourself as a manager,” judge Whelan said. “You delegated, you gave advice, you encouraged co-operation. You sought to maintain morale. Those who did deal directly with you displayed respect for you and loyalty to you.”
But for all the qualities he may possess as a businessman, Mokbel is now facing the real possibility that he may face death in prison. The 46-year-old, who was nicknamed ‘Fat Tony’, suffered a heart attack in prison earlier this year and a cardiologist testified he may have fewer than 24 years to live. When Mokbel showed up in court earlier this week, however it was clear that he had spent the time in prison trying to stave off the kilos and a potential early demise.
Along with years of drug trafficking, Mokbel has been in a number of arrests and public misdemeanors over the last 10 years. In 2001, as part of an investigation dubbed ‘Operation Kayak’, he was arrested from his Port Melbourne penthouse and charged with the possession of over more than half a tonne of chemicals that could have been used to produce 40 million pills with a street value of $2 billion. The charges were later dropped.
In November 2002, Mokbel was badly beaten in Lygon Street by Perth bikies. He blamed associate Mick Gatto for not stepping in and Gatto later claimed Mokbel paid a hitman $400,000 to kill him.
In another revenge act, Mokbel was accused of allegedly paying a hitman $140,000 to shoot and kill rival gangland leader, Lewis Moran. Moran was killed by Carl Williams and his associates outside Melbourne’s Brunswick Club in 31 March 2004. Coincidentally, Mokbel was also a close ally of Carl Williams, another ganglang leader who was killed in prison in 2010. Williams was sentenced to life in jail in 2007 over the murders of gangland patriarch Lewis Moran, his son Jason Moran and associate Mark Mallia.
In 2006, while on bail during a cocaine trial in Melbourne, Mokbel escaped from Australia to Greece on a yacht and managed to evade arrest for more than a year. He was finally arrested by Greek police in June 2007 at the seaside town of Glyfada, south of Athens. He was extradited from Greece in 2008 to face charges of murder and drug trafficking in Australia.
It took Justice Whelan 40 minutes to deliver his sentencing remarks. It took police more than 10 years to get the accused into the dock since his 2001 arrest. With 347 days cut off his sentence through time already spend in prison, Tony Mokbel can expect to be released at least just before he reaches his 36th birthday.