By Poppy Morandin & Jimmy Singh.
Craigslist ads for $350 “White VIP” party tickets posted by someone named “Charlie”, that were promised to be the “best in Melbourne,” and would “sort out your weekend properly,” may seem innocent enough to the untrained eye.
However, in late February 2017, Victorian Police set up a purchase with “Charlie” in an undercover operation that led to Kristiana Karakostas being charged with trafficking cocaine and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
A police officer arranged to buy cocaine from Ms Karakostas, after catching wind of the coded ad, arranging to meet at a petrol station next to Woodards Real Estate, whom she had worked for prior to her arrest.
During the encounter, she promised the officer “better” quality wares next time, which would cost more, at $400.
Police executed search warrants on Woodards Real Estate, three weeks later, with Ms Karakostas arrested and her belongings seized.
Within her handbag, officers found six grams of cocaine and more than $3,000 in cash.
Officers later executed another search warrant on her home, with a further 21.5 grams of cocaine, 384 grams of ethylpentylone, electronic scales and small zip lock bags found.
It was found through analysis of her phone that she had dealt around 68.5 grams of cocaine through multiple transactions.
The court heard that she had grown a dependence on cocaine and was “intimately involved,” with drugs after a toxic relationship.
“You became reliant on cocaine as a form of escapism from negative emotions and low self-worth,” Judge Lawson said.
Karakostas pleaded guilty before Victoria’s County Court which sentenced her to a three-year community correction order with 150 hours of community service.
Despite her membership of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria being stripped as a result, her former bosses, Woodards Group chief executive John Piccolo and Woodards Mount Waverley director Peter Kladouris supplied character references stating she was a “person of great future potential,” and the acts were an “error of judgement”.
Judge Lawson addressed the offender, noting that “you are a person who has made major life changes, you have re-assessed your values and you’re now committed to a more law-abiding lifestyle,”
“I can see this has been a real wake up call,” she continued.
Former Bachelor contestant, Georgia Tripos, also was involved in the syndicate and was arrested during the investigation into Karakostas.
Karakostas’ phone revealed that within text message exchanges between the two that they called themselves the “mafia,”.
Tripos will face court on 9 November of this year.
In NSW, Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW) outlines the amounts categorised as small, traffickable, indictable, commercial, and large commercial quantity.
For cocaine, these amounts are:
- Small: 1.0g
- Traffickable: 3.0g
- Indictable: 5.0g
- Commercial: 0g
- Large Commercial: 1.0kg
If an accused is caught in possession of a traffickable quantity of cocaine, he/she will be deemed to have that drug for the purposes of supply unless he/she can prove otherwise.
Possessing a prohibited drug in NSW carries up to 2-years jail or $2,200 fine, or both (including a criminal conviction unless given a section 10).
Instead of having to face the above mentioned maximum penalties for drug possession, police can now issue you an on-the-spot fine for drug possession offences in certain circumstances. The fine will not require a court appearance and won’t result in a criminal conviction if paid.
The on-the-spot fine is currently $400 in NSW. It does not apply cannabis leaf.
Supplying prohibited drugs in NSW carry maximum penalties ranging from 2-years jail (and/or $5,500 fine) to life imprisonment (and/or $550,000 fine), depending on the quantity the prohibited drug is categorised as.
Supply can be proven in a few ways.
Supply has a general meaning to sell and distribute as outlined in the case of Carey (1990) 20 NSWLR 292 at 294 (NSWCCA).
Under Section 3 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW), supply can also mean to agree to supply, offer to supply, keeping or having a prohibited drug in possession for supply, sending, forwarding, delivering or receiving for supply, or authorising, directing, causing, suffering, permitting or attempting any of those acts or things.