Crikey subscribers remember earlier events in the colourful Sergi family history.
Gary Thomas writes: It is interesting to see Pat Sergi’s name has come up again, “NSW mafia stains Labor and Liberal alike” (yesterday, item 12). He was the man about town in Mark Latham’s Liverpool mayoralty times (1991-94) when the council’s general manager was John Walker. Mark and John were a force to be reckoned with and established a very effective Liverpool Council that was setting benchmarks in local government reforms.
At the time Sergi’s Real Estate agency was given the job of selling excess council lands. Liberal councillors kicked up a fuss when they noticed the commission was a good 1% over the market rate for that type of sale.
I also understand it was at Sergi’s resort at Terrigal to which Mark Latham retreated when the tsunami struck in 2005 which initiated a media blitzkreig against him.
In a Sydney Morning Herald article dated August 30, 2006, by Debra Jopson and Gerard Ryle, the following appeared:
Mr Sergi’s company, Hiltan Pty Ltd, donated $2980 to Mr Tripodi’s 2003 election campaign and $1000 in 1999, according to declarations made to the State Electoral Office.
Hiltan and another Sergi company, Tesrol, each donated $5000 to the last election campaign of the Premier, Morris Iemma. Tesrol also gave the NSW ALP $20,000.
Hiltan has also given almost $3000 to the Woollahra branch of the Liberal Party.
By a strange coincidence, John Walker briefly became a Liberal councillor on Woollahra Municipal Council but there is no evidence he directly benefited from Sergi’s generous donation.
A Crikey subscriber writes: Back in the 1970s when I was working for the Packer-owned Daily Telegraph, I covered the trial of one of the famous Sergis who, with his family, had been growing dope between the pear and peach trees in the family orchard. The Sergis, including the women, would pack the dope after harvesting in plastic bags in the canning factory ready for sale. The senior Sergi (I think it was Antonio Sergi), wound up being busted and sought the assistance of a then hot shot Sydney lawyer to represent him at his trial.
When the Tele started running copy prominently, particularly about the entire family packing grass in the fruit factory, the lawyer had a go at me for writing a couple of stories. I think he was miffed by the headlines more than the copy. I told him anything said in open court was a public record and could be published. He said something like:
“Fair dinkum, do you really think that this Italian family knew what they were doing? That they knew what marijuana was? They were just doing what they were told to do. They’re straights.” I think I said to him: “Then how come peaches were selling for 50 cents a can and the dope was going for $30 a bag?”
I appreciate every crim deserves reasonable representation in court, but in those days the silks who were wise to how much money was coming out of Griffith were falling over themselves to get on the gravy train.
One of my best crim contacts, who died back in the mid 1990s, drove the grass trucks out of Griffith around Australia for Bob Trimbole and said it was one of the best and easiest jobs in the world — paying off cops and trucking inspectors alike to keep the road train moving.