Who says crime doesn’t pay? It’s a question notorious Melbourne
former criminal Mark “Chopper” Read poses himself, on his website, and well
might he ask. The self-described “one time toe-cutter, knee-capper and killer
of 19 men” is doing very well for himself, thank you very much, and “I have
never worked an honest day’s labour in my life,” he says. How is he achieving
this great Australian dream? By cashing in on his criminal past.

Take Chopper Read the Game. Featured in today’s papers, it’s the latest in a long list of merchandise bearing the former
standover man’s name. The board game, brought to you by Gold Coast based
Blowtorch Group, is described as “a ram-raid ride through the Australian crime
world”, where players “start off on the dole… then visit brothels, stand-over
notorious crims… beat the coppers and belt your way ‘Chopper style’ through
Pentridge to Tassie.”

Indeed, since his last stint in Tasmania’s Risdon prison, here’s what the
entrepreneurial 51-year-old ex-con has been up to:

  • Chopper, the 2000 film starring Eric Bana (consultative work)
  • An anti-domestic violence
    commercial
  • Numerous television and radio interviews
  • Two rap CDs,
    Interview with a Madman and Machete

  • Various sales of merchandise on eBay from time to time
  • His portrait
    entered into the Archibald Prize four years running
  • Chopper’s Nuts – to go with the beer, Australian grown
    nuts in six flavours, including salt and vinegar,
    curry and smoked hickory

No wonder he’s doing so well. But isn’t this called profiting from
crime? And isn’t it illegal? Crikey put a call in to the Victorian
Attorney-General’s office to ask precisely that question, but we’re yet
to hear back. Certainly, the Federal Government’s Proceeds of Crime Act
of 2002 and the Confiscation of Criminal Assets Act 2003 were both
passed partly to stop individuals like Read from making “artistic
profits” from their crimes.

Crikey has also contacted Read via email and is hoping to ask him how
he makes a living, given that he says he doesn’t work while also claiming he doesn’t see a cent from any of the Chopper Read branded ventures. Intriguing.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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