By Jessica Anstice
The face behind a real estate LJ Hooker’s franchise, Judy Nguyen, has been jailed for 20 months after she deceived property buyers in areas including Berwick and Narre Warren.
The 44-year-old woman was sentenced in the County Court of Victoria to 11 charges and fined $1500 on Tuesday after stealing more than $800,000 in deposits from her clients.
The 11 counts related to sales in Glen Waverley, Deer Park, Caroline Springs, Narre Warren, Berwick, Dandenong, Docklands and Parkdale.
Ms Nguyen’s husband and business partner, Joseph Ngo, was jailed in March last year for initiating and conducting the scheme.
Mr Ngo was sentenced to five years imprisonment, three of those years being without the possibility of parole.
During the court sentencing Judge Michael Bourke said Ms Nguyen’s wrongful conversion scheme had some “sophistication” to it and caused anxiety and stress for the many affected vendors.
He said it was “dishonest behaviour and ultimately the aim was your (Ms Nguyen’s) benefit.”
Real Estate Institution of Victoria vice president Leah Calnan said she is “pleased the courts have prosecuted the parties accordingly”.
“It’s a substantial breach of trust,” Ms Calnan said.
“Its important real estate agents have a high level of integrity and a high trust component when dealing with the public, so it’s disappointing to see this behaviour arise.”
She will be eligible for parole in eight months.
Ms Nguyen was a franchisee of the LJ Hooker office in Glen Waverley and had branches in Keysborough, Box Hill, Mount Waverley, Doncaster and Burwood. She had no involvement with offices in the Casey and Cardinia region.