A Melbourne lawyer has been found guilty of laundering dirty money allegedly given to him by a man accused of playing a part in the notorious Richmond road gang robbery of 1994.
John Anile’s barrister Peter Billings said it would be a “miracle” if his client ever practised law again after a jury found 58-year-old Anile guilty of money laundering and obtaining financial advantage by deception.
Police say the $400,000 John Anile laundered was given to him by a man accused of playing a part in the notorious Richmond road gang robbery of 1994. Photo: John Woudstra
The Williamstown solicitor appeared in the Melbourne County Court on Friday for a plea hearing where the court – filled with his family and friends – was told helaundered $400,000 allegedly given to him by former kickboxing champion Percy Lanciana in 1994.
The case against Anile was part of Operation Tideland, a taskforce that investigated an organised crime syndicate responsible for serious crimes, including the 1994 Richmond heist, where syndicate membersdressed as road workers to allegedly hold up an Armaguard truck to steal $2.4 million.
Mr Lanciana was charged with the Richmond robbery last year. He is contesting the accusations at a committal hearing in October.
The prosecution in Anile’s case did not specify the laundered money came from the heist, stating instead that the cash came from a serious offence and Anile knew it was dirty.
“That alone makes it a very serious offence and it calls for an immediate custodial sentence,” prosecutor Matt Fisher said.
According to court documents, Anile was caught in a covert recording in 2013 saying to a witness; “I know exactly where the f—ing money came from”.
“I will never tell you where the money came from. You can put a gun to my head and I will never tell you. All I can tell you is that the $400,000 cash was a small proportion of it,” he said.
In another meeting, the witness speculatedthe money came from a train robbery, to which Anile replies: “You don’t have to be a genius. They had a bunch of cash and they did not work.”
Anile wenton to say: “He wasn’t into drugs, whatever it was, whether it was stand-overs or robberies, whatever it was, it wasn’t drugs”.
Anile had pleaded not guilty to laundering the money and deception.Police said he boughta vacant lotin Williamstown using $400,000 of “under the table”cash and avoiding stamp duty and taxes by underquoting the sale.
Mr Billings told the court his client had an unblemished record before and since, but his reputation wasnow lost and he hadsuffered substantial hardship.
He said the Legal Services Commissioner had taken over his client’s firm and he will be required to hand in his practising certificate.
“Unless a miracle occurs, he’ll never practise law again,” Mr Billings said.
He said Anile had suffered an “enduring campaign” from the press where it was alleged the money came from the Richmond Armaguard heist.
“As your honour knows, that’s not the basis of the prosecution case,” Mr Billings said.
He asked Judge Phillip Coish to consider a suspended sentence or community corrections order and take into account his client’s remorse and likelihood he wouldn’t reoffend.
He argued the delay in proceedings – Anile was arrested in 2014 and the offence was 23 years ago – should also be a factor in sentencing.
Mr Fisher said Anile has had a lifetime of freedom.
“It’s a period of time in which the accused man has lived his life, worked, been an active member of the community,” he said.
Anile will be sentenced next Friday.