Real estate agent jailed for fraud

A suspended real estate agent will spend more than three years in prison for ripping off almost $2 million from clients.

Anthony Vito Brancatella was sentenced to a maximum term of 40 months behind bars with a non-parole period of 20 months, Fairfax Media reported.

Consumer Affairs Victoria found 62 breaches between December 2013 and June 2014 when Brancatella siphoned money from the trust account of his agency, McDonald Real Estate in Mulgrave, to help sustain his ailing business.

More than $500,000 in compensation has been paid to 12 of his victims through the Victorian Property Fund, and Brancatella had personally reimbursed almost $400,000.

County Judge Carolyn Douglas said the offences were out of character and noted Brancatella’s desperation due to his agency’s financial struggles.

“Unfortunately, your offending can tarnish all of those working in the real estate industry,” Judge Douglas said.

“In the circumstances, I take into account in your favour that you’ve lost your livelihood in that you’re no longer able to work in your chosen job,” she added.

Judge Douglas acknowledged Brancatella’s early admission of guilt, willingness to co-operate with investigators and reimburse those affected in handing him a reduced sentence.

Brancatella’s licence was suspended in March 2015 by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

[Related: Unlicensed agent banned from trading]

 

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