A former Victoria’s police sergeant who used obscure laws to steal houses from her unsuspecting victims has had her prison sentence shaved for a year by two judges who still went to great lengths to call her insultingly “breathtakingly dishonest”.
- Between 2016 and 2017, Rosa Rossi used obscure laws to claim six vacant properties – three in the town of Willaura near Ararat and three in Melbourne
- She rented out two of the properties and earned about $ 13,000 in rent
- The judges called Rossi’s insult “cynical” and “deliberate”, but said her guilty plea should have been reflected in her verdict.
Rosa Rossi was originally sentenced in County Court to four and a half years behind bars for the extensive list, but claimed the sentence was “obviously excessive” and launched an appeal.
Today, judges Phillip Priest and Terry Forrest agreed and outraged Rossi, ordering her to spend three and a half years behind bars.
They also reduced her probation period to one year and nine months, meaning she could be eligible for probation in June next year.
But the judges were honest about how the court viewed Rossi’s insult.
“It was cynical, deliberate and breathtakingly dishonest.
“We consider the applicant’s misdemeanor to have been committed by a person whose sworn duty it was to uphold the law.
“Her actions were intended to erode society’s trust in its police.”
However, they also acknowledged that Rossi’s victims did not suffer any “significant financial loss”.
“This was not a case where a victim was left in distress as a result of the applicant’s fraudulent activity,” they said.
Fraud was directed at homeowners who were intergovernmental abroad
Between 2016 and 2017, Rossi claimed six vacant properties – three in the village of Willaura, near Ararat, and three in Melbourne – which together were conservatively valued at more than $ 2.6 million.
Her scam often followed a loose but distinctive pattern.
The 57-year-old wanted to find a home that had stood empty for some time and changed locks on the property, without explicitly telling the locksmith that she was not the owner.
She would then contact the city council and submit an address change form, redirect all correspondence for the real owner to herself and sometimes even impersonate them.
Her scam would be aimed at homeowners who were interstate or out of the country, including a woman who had moved to Queensland to take care of her sick son and a man living in South Africa who inherited a house after his father’s death. .
She rented out two of the properties – in Chadstone in the southeastern part of Melbourne and Brooklyn in the western part of Melbourne – and earned about $ 13,000 in rent.
On two other occasions, neighbors became suspicious and contacted the owners. They returned to find new blockages on the doors and their belongings were missing.
Accusations of guilt should have been reflected in sentence: judges
Over time, Rossi’s scam became more cheeky.
In 2017, Rossi went to Hobsons Bay City Council wearing his police uniform and demanded the name of a person who owned a house in Brooklyn.
Legal documents reveal that when a council employee told her the information would be emailed, she said she was already in the local area and asked to have it given to her on the spot.
She then contacted the owner, who worked in Macau, and claimed she had been called to the house in her role as a police officer because there had been reports of squatters.
Rossi so naughty told the man that she had secured the house and maintained it for him.
The former police officer was charged after an investigation by the corruption guard.
Justice Priest and Forrest said Rossi’s guilty pleadings should have been reflected more in the verdict she received.
“Any lawsuit against the applicant would have been lengthy … and would have involved summoning many witnesses, including property owners, locksmiths, real estate agents, local councilors, mortgage brokers, police and others,” they said.