17 June 2022

Money laundering allegation added to drug importation claims facing real estate agent

| Albert McKnight
Man with shaved head

Gerardo Penna, 40, has been hit with more charges. Photo: LinkedIn.

A man already accused of being involved in the attempted importation of drugs originally thought to be worth millions has now been hit with fresh charges alleging he also committed money laundering and unlawfully possessed $35,000-worth of electric bikes.

Gerardo Penna, a former real estate agent, and Priscilla Palombi, were aged 40 and 39 respectively when they were handed their initial charges last year.

On Wednesday (15 June), the ACT Supreme Court heard the pair were alleged to have attempted to possess a consignment containing about 790 grams of methamphetamine on 17 November 2021.

Mr Penna was granted bail last December and has been committed to the ACT Supreme Court for trial to fight charges stemming from these allegations.

Ms Palombi had previously indicated she would plead not guilty to her charge.

But he appeared in the courts again on Wednesday where he was handed more charges including money laundering, receiving stolen property, dealing with the proceeds of crime and failing to comply with an order by a magistrate.

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The Crown prosecutor applied to have his bail revoked in the Supreme Court alleging he breached his bail by failing to give police the passcode to a phone found in his bedroom on 20 April 2022 after claiming it was his partner’s.

He also alleged Mr Penna used the phone to download a game from the Internet, another violation of his bail conditions.

The prosecutor said Mr Penna was unemployed and received about $17,500 in Centrelink payments in the last financial year.

Priscilla Palombi leaving court earlier this year. Photo: Albert McKnight.

However, he’d allegedly bought a Mazda RX-7 for $20,000 cash, which was subject of the money laundering charge.

He had also allegedly bought electric bikes worth $35,000 that were seized in November 2021 and were the subject of the stolen property charge.

The prosecutor alleged he had been supporting himself via illicit means.

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Barrister Duncan Berents said his client’s partner lived with him, she told police it was her phone, the previous owner of the Mazda said she legitimately sold it to him and there had been no other allegation of bail breaches.

Man flipping off a photographer

Gerardo Penna leaves court after being granted bail on Wednesday evening. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson refused to revoke bail and Mr Penna was sent back to the Magistrates Court so he could apply for bail on his fresh charges, which Magistrate Glenn Theakston ultimately granted.

Magistrate Theakston noted Mr Penna’s role in caring for his parents and that the phone was with the police.

The magistrate made a bail condition that he not be within 10 metres of mobile phones and adjourned to 24 August.

Mr Penna has pleaded not guilty to his fresh charges.

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