Lawyer stole from company to fund his lifestyle
A FORMER Cairns lawyer has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years jail for defrauding more than $200,000 from a company he co-directed to pay for his house, car and kitchen renovations.
Anthony George Mirotsos, 46, who was also a one-time Cairns Chamber of Commerce president, was found guilty of 11 fraud charges of misappropriating $211,695 from Koolmoon Developments and trying to defraud a portion of about $95,000 in 2014-16.
He pleaded not guilty to an initial 32 charges when his trial began in the Cairns District Court on March 2.
The court heard Koolmon Developments was set up by Mirotsos, Papua New Guinean businessman James Cassell and builder Alfred White to build a commercial property on Mount Koolmoon Street in Smithfield.
Mr Cassell was Mirotsos' client in a family court matter and was interested in investing.
Mr Cassell and Mr White are not facing any charges in relation to their roles.
"The idea was that the three of you would use Mr Cassell's money to buy the land for the building before selling it then divide profits," Chief Judge Brian Devereaux said.
"During that process, you became project manager. A number of factors leading to the failure of the project."
Mr Cassell's father then bought his and Mr White's shares before the company went into liquidation.
There is also no allegation of any wrongdoing by the father.
The court heard the other directors signed paperwork but were "ignorant of what they had signed and their duties".
Of the 11 occasions of fraud, Mirotsos took about $33,000 to pay his car, $45,000 for fees he claimed Mr Cassell owed him and $50,000 he said was to pay himself for being project manager.
In his evidence, Mr Cassell said he invested $2.8m in multiple payments over several months at the insistence of Mr Mirotsos.
During the 11-day trial, nine fraud charges were discontinued while he was ruled not guilty on a 10th charge.
The jury on Tuesday found Mirotsos not guilty of 11 other fraud charges.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Devereaux said Mirotsos "exercised control" and "took advantage of your position".
"You were able to dishonestly do the things you did because you had complete control over the company's finances," Judge Devereaux said.
"Your conduct was a very serious breach of trust. You abused that trust to your advantage.
"Other people have to know that such conduct will be dealt with by the courts by terms of immediate imprisonment."
Judge Devereaux said he accepted that there was evidence Mirotsos repaid thousands of dollars to reduce the loss on the company and that he had no previous criminal convictions.
Earlier in the hearing, Crown prosecutor Eddie Coker argued for 5-6 years and said the offending had a number of significant aggravating factors, including "a multifaceted breach of trust".
Mr Coker also said the offender showed a lack of remorse, that he did not show any admission of wrongdoing and that the offending happened over a long period.
Defence barrister Isaac Munsie argued for 4-5 years and said the financial loss from the offending was reduced to about $135,000 because his client had repaid some of the money.
Mr Munsie said there had been a mental health toll on his client, despite not being diagnosed with any conditions, since the allegations arose in 2017.
The court heard Mirotsos intends to enter the construction industry after release from jail, which will become suspended after he serves 27 months.
Originally published as Well-known former lawyer jailed for fraud after marathon trial