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AustraliaIranian refugee who created 24-carat gold burger facing jail for cocaine dealing

09:30  16 september  2019
09:30  16 september  2019 Source:   theage.com.au

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Iranian refugee who created 24-carat gold burger facing jail for cocaine dealing© Instagram Phat Stacks sold burgers with a 24 carat gold bun.

Iranian refugee and entrepreneur Emad Zarghami's world appeared to revolve around fancy dinners, expensive watches and stacks of casino chips won at poker.

Iranian refugee who created 24-carat gold burger facing jail for cocaine dealing© Instagram Burger shop owner Emad Zarghami was found with 260g of cocaine and more than $100,000 in cash.

Zarghami, 24, who came to Australia by boat as a young child, was a talented student who won a scholarship to Melbourne University and ran Instagram-ready burger shop Phat Stacks in Camberwell.

Iranian refugee who created 24-carat gold burger facing jail for cocaine dealing© County Court of Victoria Emad Zarghami's Audi, which was stopped outside Crown Casino on Boxing Day in 2017.

The menu featured a burger with a 24-carat gold bun, at the price of $88.80.

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That burger shop is now up for sale, as Zarghami faces a significant jail term for trafficking more than 260 grams of cocaine.

Defence lawyer Nick Papas, QC, on Monday in Melbourne's County Court described Zarghami as "young and stupid, surrounded by money and living a fools' paradise".

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On Boxing Day 2017, police pulled over Zarghami's white Audi coupe for a routine intercept after he was seen leaving the Crown casino car park.

Iranian refugee who created 24-carat gold burger facing jail for cocaine dealing© County Court of Victoria The drugs and cash seized by police when Emad Zarghami's Audi was stopped outside Crown casino on Boxing Day in 2017.

Zarghami told the officers he'd been playing poker and had won about $2000, but when he pulled his licence from his wallet they saw a wad $50 and $100 notes and decided to search the car.

In a zipped pocket on Zarghami's right side, they found more $100 bills. Another poker windfall, he claimed.

But in the boot, police discovered a Rip Curl backpack full of cash in rubber bands and ziplock bags of white powder.

Iranian refugee who created 24-carat gold burger facing jail for cocaine dealing© County Court of Victoria Photos of drugs and cash seized by police when Emad Zarghami's Audi was stopped outside Crown Casino on Boxing Day in 2017.

It was later revealed to be $108,296.15 and forensic tests showed the powder was cocaine.

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According to a prosecution summary, Zarghami told police he had been given the cash and drugs.

"Come on, seriously, I owe people money as if that would be mine," he told police.

On Zarghami's key ring was a USB stick that contained a PDF copy of a book titled The Secrets of Methamphetamine Production by Uncle Fester.

Iranian refugee who created 24-carat gold burger facing jail for cocaine dealing© Instagram Emad Zarghami liked to present a life of luxury in social media.

At the time, Zarghami was on bail for possession of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine and ecstasy. He has pleaded guilty to committing an indictable offence while on bail.

On Monday the luxury hotel robes Zarghami wore in photos posted on social media were replaced by a grey prison tracksuit.

At times he muttered aloud and gestured to the judge as his offending was discussed. When asked for his occupation, Zarghami replied: "Professional gambler."

Iranian refugee who created 24-carat gold burger facing jail for cocaine dealing© Instagram Judge Michael Tinney said Zarghami was motivated by money.

His parents were in the court for their son's plea hearing after a jury earlier found him guilty of trafficking in a drug of dependence.

He was acquitted on dealing with proceeds of crime. In addition to gambling, Zarghami claimed he was making money from cryptocurrency trading.

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Iranian refugee who created 24-carat gold burger facing jail for cocaine dealing© Instagram Emad Zarghami

Judge Michael Tinney said that it was clear Zarghami was motivated by money.

"He's no fool, he's taken a calculated risk," he said.

The court heard that the family had fled Iran and made it to Australia in 2001 by boat on the second attempt.

Time spent in the Woomera detention centre had left Zarghami with ongoing trauma, according to a psychologist report tendered by the defence.

Mr Papas said his client had thrown away the opportunities he had been given in life, including a university education and high VCE score, to lead a "high-roller lifestyle".

"All of those things should have augured for a decent person of society," he said.

Before his offending, Judge Tinney said Zarghami would have been viewed as a "success story".

"He's frittered it away ... he's living in a totally warped existence."

Before his arrest, Zarghami decorated his burger shop with artwork from Breaking Bad, a TV series about a chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

It featured the words: "All bad things must come to an end."

Zarghami will be sentenced on Wednesday.

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