Former Victoria police sergeant Rosa Rossi, who claimed vacant homes in real estate scam, received jail time
A former Victoria Police sergeant who used obscure laws to rob the homes of his unsuspecting victims saw his year-long prison sentence scoured by two judges, who still struggled to label his offense as “dishonest breathtaking”.
- 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 two of the properties, earning around $ 13,000 in rent
- Judges called Rossi’s offense “cynical” and “premeditated,” but said his guilty pleas should have been reflected in his sentence.
Rosa Rossi was initially sentenced by county court to four and a half years in prison for the elaborate ruse, but claimed the sentence was “patently excessive” and appealed.
Today Judges Phillip Priest and Terry Forrest accepted and convicted Rossi, ordering him to spend three and a half years behind bars.
They also reduced her parole period to one year and nine months, which means she could be eligible for parole in June of next year.
But the judges were candid about how the court viewed Rossi’s offense.
“It was cynical, premeditated and incredibly dishonest.
“We consider that the applicant’s offense was … perpetrated by a person whose sworn duty was to uphold the law.
“His actions were calculated to erode the community’s confidence in his police.”
However, they also acknowledged that Rossi’s victims suffered no “substantial financial loss”.
“This was not a case where a victim found himself destitute due to the fraudulent activity of the plaintiff,” they said.
The scam targeted owners who were interstate, overseas
Between 2016 and 2017, Rossi claimed six vacant properties – three in the rural town of Willaura, near Ararat, and three in Melbourne – which together were conservatively valued at over $ 2.6 million.
His scam often followed a loose but distinctive pattern.
The 57-year-old would find a house empty for some time and change the locks on the property, never explicitly telling the locksmith that she was not the owner.
She would then contact the local council and submit a change of address form, redirecting all correspondence for the real owner to herself and sometimes even masquerading as them.
His scam would target homeowners who were interstate or overseas, including a woman who had moved to Queensland to care for her ailing son and a man living in South Africa who inherited a house after the death of his father.
She rented two of the properties – in Chadstone in southeast Melbourne and Brooklyn in west Melbourne – for rent of around $ 13,000.
On two other occasions, neighbors became suspicious and contacted the owners. We came back to find new locks on the doors and their missing belongings.
Guilty pleas should have been reflected in sentence: judges
Over time, Rossi’s scam has grown more cheeky.
In 2017, Rossi went to Hobsons Bay City Council dressed in her police uniform and asked for the name of someone who owned a house in Brooklyn.
Court documents reveal that when a city official told her the information would be emailed, she said she was already in the area and requested that it be released to her immediately.
She then contacted the owner, who worked in Macau, and claimed that she had been called home in her role as a police officer because there had been reports of squatters.
Rossi then brazenly told the man that she had secured the house and was maintaining it for him.
The former police officer was indicted following an investigation by the Corruption Observatory.
Justices Priest and Forrest said Rossi’s guilty pleas should have been more reflected in the sentence she received.
“Any trial of the plaintiff would have been long … and would have involved the calling of many witnesses, including landlords, locksmiths, real estate agents, members of the local council, mortgage brokers, police officers and others,” they said. declared.