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Australia Corrupt politicians, prostitutes and murder: Lucky Gattellari's tell-all interview

20:55  09 february  2020
20:55  09 february  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

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Monday, 10 February 2020 Lucky Gattellari ' s tell - all interview on corrupt politicians | Sky Australia Sports He didn't see a tree for nine years, but upon leaving jail Gattellari revealed the names and activities of a number of corrupt politicians and a series of insurance frauds.

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Former boxing champion Fortunato © JAMES BRICKWOOD Former boxing champion Fortunato "Lucky" Gattellari, 70, who was recently released from jail. After more than nine years behind bars, Fortunato “Lucky” Gattellari walked out of Long Bay jail’s Special Purpose Centre, a maximum security section for inmates requiring special protection, in mid-December.

In his first interview since his arrest and jailing, Gattellari revealed the names and activities of a number of corrupt politicians and a series of insurance frauds, including the death of a racehorse for money.

He also shed light on events leading up to the 2011 murder of Les Samba, the racing partner of jailed property developer Ron Medich.

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Corrupt politicians , prostitutes and murder : LuckyGattellari' s tell - all interview | @Kate_McClymont. Less than a year after being the star crown witness at Ron Medich' s murder trial, gattellari '> Lucky Gattellari has been found guilty of demanding up to million from the

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The former boxer named three former NSW state politicians and a former federal politician who he claims were involved in corrupt deals with Medich.

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Gattellari told this masthead that as well as organising for a prostitute to be provided to former NSW mining minister Ian Macdonald in return for expected government contracts (which were the subject of an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry), Gattellari also gave $10,000 in cash to Macdonald via a close associate, who he named.

a man standing in front of a building: Millionaire property developer Ron Medich was found guilty of the murder of Michael McGurk in 2018.© AAP Millionaire property developer Ron Medich was found guilty of the murder of Michael McGurk in 2018.

Gattellari said the payment was on behalf of Medich and was related to a prospective coal mining deal in the Hunter Valley.

Gattellari, who turns 70 on February 15, was the Crown’s star witness against his one-time friend Medich, a wealthy property developer now serving a 39-year sentence for ordering the 2009 murder of his business enemy Michael McGurk.

The former champion boxer, vineyard owner, Qantas steward, copy boy, brothel proprietor and murder organiser served seven-and-half years for organising McGurk’s murder on Medich’s behalf. His sentence was reduced in return for giving evidence against Medich.

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Gattellari received more jail time after a jury found him guilty of trying to extort money from Medich, using the services of now-convicted murderers Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara. He still protests his innocence in this matter.

In October 2010, 13 months after McGurk was shot in front of his nine-year-old-son, police arrested Gattellari, his sidekick Senad Kaminic, as well as the two men responsible for the actual shooting: Haissam Safetli, then 45, and his 19-year-old accomplice Christopher Estephan.

a person smiling for the camera: Trainer Les Samba was fatally shot in Melbourne's Middle Park in February 2011.© Supplied Trainer Les Samba was fatally shot in Melbourne's Middle Park in February 2011.

Other corrupt activities Gattellari conducted for Medich included a string of insurance frauds. Medich and racing partner Samba paid $350,000 for a horse that turned out to be a dud. Gattellari organised for a trainer at Warwick Farm to make up “glowing reports” about the horse’s potential. It then had “an accident” at a spelling farm and was taken to an equine centre where it was eventually put down.

Samba was not happy about $25,000 in vet bills prior to the horse being euthanised. “The horse should’ve been f--king killed to start with,” Samba complained.

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“Next time, why don’t you do it yourself Les, you’re so bloody smart,” said Gattellari.

As well as organising to get rid of a Mercedes-Benz so that Medich and Gattellari’s company could make an insurance claim, Gattellari also claims that he conspired with Medich to arrange the theft of more than $300,000 worth of wine from Medich’s house. Medich received a hefty insurance payout.

a person posing for the camera: Haissam Safetli was arrested in 2010 for his role in the murder of Michael McGurk.© Vanda Carson Haissam Safetli was arrested in 2010 for his role in the murder of Michael McGurk. And if they hadn’t been “busted” for the murder, Medich’s million-dollar boat would “probably have gone up next”, said Gattellari.

These matters were included in the lengthy statement he gave to police. “I think they wanted him for murder, I don’t think they were interested in anything else,” he said.

Gattellari also explained to police that Medich was involved in laundering money for Samba, who had significant underworld connections. “Les would bring in the cash and Ron would do the cleaning for him,” he said.

Samba had serious drug charges against him dropped and was then investigated by the National Crime Authority over $1.2 million in unexplained income. In 2002, Samba declared bankruptcy rather than pay tax on the disputed income.

At Medich’s trial it was revealed that Samba had provided Medich with the cash used to pay Safetli for the McGurk murder.

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Samba was shot dead in Melbourne on the night of February 27, 2011. His murder remains unsolved.

a person wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Bassam Safelti pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder.© Ben Rushton Bassam Safelti pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to murder. Before his death, Samba was an extremely worried man. Gattellari said Samba had hidden $4 million in cash in the safe of a Victorian underworld figure. The money had been seized by police and Samba was desperate to get it back as the money wasn’t his.

He said that Samba flew to Sydney to see if he could find someone who could claim the money was theirs. Gattellari said that Medich couldn’t do it because he was already in a “shitfight” with his wife, Odetta, about money. Gattellari was about to provide an associate to claim the money when Samba mentioned there was a small hitch - there were also drugs found in the safe.

Samba never did get the money back.

Gattellari is still furious that he received a longer sentence than Safetli, who received $300,000 in cash for the murder and another $100,000 for the intimidation of the victim’s widow, Kimberley McGurk.

a woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Kimberley McGurk, wife of murdered Michael McGurk, leaves a Sydney court during the murder trial of Ron Medich in 2017.© Daniel Munoz Kimberley McGurk, wife of murdered Michael McGurk, leaves a Sydney court during the murder trial of Ron Medich in 2017.

“He got six months less jail time than me, and this was the guy that did the actual shooting,” he fumed. Not only did Safetli shoot McGurk in front of his son, he received a lesser sentence after nominating the teenager as the killer. Safetli’s brother Bassam didn’t do any jail time at all.

“Bassam was the brains between the two brothers. Haissam was an imbecile, a loud-mouthed narcissist who wanted the world to think he was something.

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“Bass was calm, cool and collected. There would have been no murder without him. What did he get? A six-month suspended sentence!”

Gattellari was set to give evidence at Bassam's trial when he pleaded guilty. When Gattellari heard the younger Safetli would not do jail time, he was incensed. “Honest to god, if I had any faith in justice it went right down the toilet.”

Gattellari says jail is a “living hell” especially as a Crown witness, where you are locked in your cell for up to 22 hours a day. For nine years he didn’t see a tree.

While most of the prison officers were decent people, Gattellari named one corrupt officer who was enabling contraband to be smuggled in to favoured prisoners. There was a black market trade in all manner of things including the sale of methadone. Some addicts on the methadone program would take the medication, “spew it up, catch it in a container and sell it on to someone else”, he said.

a person posing for the camera: Trainer Les Samba was fatally shot in Melbourne's Middle Park in February 2011.© Supplied Trainer Les Samba was fatally shot in Melbourne's Middle Park in February 2011.

Gattellari wants more done to rehabilitate criminals. Unless they were in for violent crimes, Gattellari said young first offenders should only have six-month sentences because those first months are the worst and you never want to go back to jail. After six months, “they get twisted, they get torn, they get bent and they become criminals because of where they are”.

He also wanted the opportunity to apologise to Kimberley McGurk and her family. “I'm totally and completely sorry for my involvement in the whole sordid affair.” He said Michael McGurk “could have been the worst bloke in the world … but he had a mother, he had a wife, and he had children … and those are the people I hurt most.”

As for Medich, who wasn’t jailed until 2018, Gattellari penned a letter to his former friend while stewing in jail in 2012.

“You deserted me like a rat off a sinking ship … after all I did for you and got involved in a murder just to satisfy your frustration and anger.

“So Ron lets (sic) let justice take its course … I think you will get all you deserve and have the time to reflect on what a mess you have made of all our lives.

“Goodbye Mr Medich and good luck, may God help you as I certainly cannot and would not if I could.

“Your onetime friend. Do you remember what that is?

Lucky.”

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