Landlord discovers drug operation, gets arrested

A Melbourne landlord who reported police about a tenant growing a ‘sophisticated’ marijuana crop was later charged with fraudulently obtaining a mortgage, according to the Herald Sun newspaper.

Lerich Tran apparently used fake pay slips to falsely claim he worked full time as a chef, making $3,677 per month, in order to obtain a $448,000 loan from Westpac.

Defence counsel John Saunders said Tran, once a Vietnamese refugee, told police he couldn’t qualify for the mortgage but could meet the monthly repayments, which he did until his January arrest.

"This man wanted to buy a house, he wanted to get ahead, he wanted to make something of himself," Saunders told the County Court.

He said Tran was assisted by a ‘dodgy’ conveyancer, who allegedly created the false pay slips and is the subject of a large criminal investigation.

Prosecutor Catherine Parkes said police discovered 358 cannabis plants totalling more than 100kg of marijuana when they searched Tran's Burnside Heights tenanted property in May last year.

Tran apparently noticed the house was damaged when he visited to trim trees and called the police. The father of two pleaded guilty to obtaining financial advantage by deception and a summary offence of failing to change the address on his licence.

He was also prosecuted by the State Revenue Office and charged with four offences, including refusing to repay the first homeowners' grant, to which he was not entitled, and making a false statement.

He received a 15-month community corrections order, under which he must complete 250 hours of unpaid community work.

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  • Me says on 12/11/2013 02:40:55 PM

    This article was not written very well and I had to read it 3 or 4 times to make sense of it. I am assuming that Tran was not profitting from the marijuana crop and was only receiving rental income from the property. But once Tran did his civil duty and informed the police it was looked into how he could afford to pay the mortgage. Then the police et al assumed he was a bad guy and profitting from drug production because of the dodgy income statements to get the loan and thus he was prosecuted. WAY TO GO AUTHORITIES. Why would anyone in their right mind dob in a druggie in the future? Maybe Tran should have just evicted them via the usual channels and left it at that in order to protect himself. If the police want to find something or anything on someone they dont like, they will keep going at you. I have been in this situation, when I had to evict a tenant and I learned she was a well known ice user, but the cops still thought I was an evil witch because I was evicting her. The abuse (physical (one cop forcefully pushed my husband with the intent to harm him whilst he was changing the locks), verbal and emotional) we suffered from the police was not only illegal but made me consider how I operate my business. And the ensuing VCAT crap was hell! All because the tenant was a drug abuser and the cops hated me and decided to pick on me. 2014 will see both the coppers and VCAT taken to task on this, but in the mean time, this article just proves that maybe the best cause of action is none at all!

  • Troy says on 12/11/2013 07:31:07 PM

    The police would not have been the ones to charge him with the offences. That would be a matter for the bank to persue civily since they entered into an agreement with the home owner. Despite his intentions of moving forward and having an investment property the fact that he informed police about the illegal activity in his house does not absolve him of guilt for knowlingly making a false document and applying for a loan along with the first home owners grant.

  • Greg says on 15/11/2013 09:48:02 AM

    In Australia, no good deed goes un-punished... :D

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