Michael Bakhaazi jailed for 3 years for stealing a quarter million dollars

On 13 December 2006, Justice Curtain jailed Elias Michael Bakhaazi, a solicitor, for three years and three months, with a non-parole period of eighteen months, and ordered him to pay back that part of the stolen funds that had not already been paid back: R v Bakhaazi[2006] VSC 496.Incidentally, he was Daming He‘s solicitor. He stole more than a quarter of a million dollars in five separate transactions with six victims, mainly in 2001 and 2002. His victims were hard-working Lebanese who trusted him because of his links with that community as well as because he was their solicitor. It seems Mr Bakhaazi lost $700,000, turned to gambling, lost his marriage, became suicidal, and now has excellent prospects for rehabilitation. Of the victim impact statements, her Honour said:

‘[24] Victim impact statements tendered in evidence, made by Mr Maatouk, Mr Makari, Mr Hamod and Mr Abdullah each speak eloquently of the impact of your criminality upon each of them. Mr Maatouk describes the stress he has suffered and ongoing worry as the property, the subject of that transaction, has still yet to be transferred into his name. Mr Hamod speaks of the loss of three businesses, the stress of these matters and its impact upon his marriage and health. Mr Makari stated that the $20,000 was his hard savings earned from “the very hard work that he had to put up with over the years.” He describes you as a heartless man and blames himself for being fooled by you. Mr Abdullah is still repaying the interest of $3,000 per quarter on the loan of $150,000. He has had to sell two properties and borrow from family and friends to make ends meet and states that, financially, his retirement is ruined.’

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