The partner of the president of the Mongrel Mob Kawerau chapter has been jailed for more than two years for money-laundering offences totalling almost $250,000.
Frank Milosevic's partner, Irene Raki, and his son Slobodan Milosevic's partner Raiha Tawera were both sentenced in the Tauranga District Court on February 12.
The two women were found guilty with their partners of joint money-laundering charges at their jury trials in the Hamilton District Court last year.
Their partners were also convicted on 29 drug-dealing charges, including cultivating at least 400 cannabis plants and possessing about 2.4 kgs of methamphetamine for supply.
The Crown charges stemmed from a six-month covert police investigation named Operation Notus, focused on the Mongrel Mob Kawerau chapter and their associates.
It resulted in multiple arrests and some of those charged have earlier been sentenced.
Raki, 52, and her partner Frank Milosevic, 52, who is the Mongrel Mob Kawerau chapter president, were found guilty of two joint charges of engaging in money-laundering.
The charges involved laundering about $250,000, which related to 46 cash deposits into bank accounts the pair controlled and also a number of large cash purchases.
The purchases between 2015 and 2016 included a $43,000 van, a $90,000 Ford Raptor and a $23,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Judge Paul Mabey QC sentenced Raki to two years and six months' prison.
Raki's lawyer Rebekah Webby argued that her client's culpability should be considered less than her husband as in most respects she did not personally benefit from the money.
Webby also said Raki maintained that she had no knowledge where the money came from and did not know about a number of the bank transactions.
She said there was also no evidence of Raki living a luxurious lifestyle.
Webby argued that personal factors and character references confirmed Raki had made a substantial contribution to the community over many years and this deserved recognition.
Judge Mabey said Raki's claim she was innocent of the charges and lacked knowledge of the source of laundered money and personally did not benefit was untrue and "fanciful".
Frank Milosevic was jailed for 17-and-a-half years on Thursday, with a minimum non-parole period of eight years and nine months, which also included jail time for 14 cannabis and methamphetamine-dealing charges.
Raiha Tawera, 32, who is expecting her and her partner's fourth child in May, was found guilty of three joint charges of engaging in money-laundering transactions.
The charges involved laundering about $230,000 between 2015 and 2018.
This included electronic bank payments totalling $54,000; $104,894 in cash deposits made into another person's bank account, and a raft of cash purchases.
The latter mostly related to renovations to the couple's Kawerau home.
Tawera's lawyer Jessica Tarrant urged Judge Mabey to accept that her client was less culpable than her partner as she was not involved in any drug dealing activities.
She also said there was no evidence of Tawera living a lavish lifestyle and urged the judge to impose a sentence of home detention.
Crown prosecutor Richard Jenson argued that in terms of parity, Tawera should also be sent to jail as there was no evidence she would suffer undue hardship in prison.
Jenson said the Crown evidence clearly showed Tawera did have knowledge of her partner's drug dealing and received a more direct benefit from the proceeds than Raki did.
However, Judge Mabey said he was satisfied after considering all Tawera's personal circumstances and the pre-sentence and cultural reports, he could show leniency to her.
He sentenced Tawera to 12 months' home detention with 9 months of release conditions.
The judge said he found compelling reasons not to send Tawera to prison, which included the impacts on her children if they lost both parents support for a substantial period time.
Slobodan Milosevic was sentenced to 15 years and nine months prison on February 11 for the money laundering charges and also 15 cannabis and P-dealing offences.
He must serve at least seven years and 10 months before eligible to apply for parole.
Two other offenders, Starlight Whitumarama Manuel, 36, of Whakatāne and Lawrence Te Kira, 47, of Gisborne, were also sentenced in relation to their drug-dealing charges.
Manuel, 36, known as "Star Dog" to his Mongrel Mob associates, was found guilty in relation to 10 drug-dealing offences.
These included four charges of possession of cannabis for sale, one each of selling cannabis, conspiring to sell cannabis, possession of P for supply, conspired to supply methamphetamine and two further charges of offering to supply cannabis.
His offending included offering to supply not less than 21g of P, and conspiring to supply about 120 ounces of cannabis and was also caught with 42g of P on him when arrested.
During the trial, he also pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a .308 Weatherby rifle, a large amount of ammunition and a knife, plus possession of P utensils.
His lawyer Roger Gowing urged Judge Mabey to take into account several mitigating factors, including Manuel's cultural background report which detailed his "substantially deprived and disadvantaged upbringing".
Judge Mabey sentenced Manuel to three years and four months' prison overall on the charges after taking into account this report and other personal factors in mitigation.
The pre-sentence and cultural background reports revealed a man who had become "highly institutionalised" and socially isolated when released from prison, the judge said.
Judge Mabey said it was clear Manuel, who had spent 18 of the last 20 years in prison, was in a "fragile state" both physically and psychologically.
Manuel's personal circumstances "cried out" for substantial recognition of those factors and ultimately a significantly reduced prison sentence, he said.
The court heard that Manuel told the pre-sentence report writer that he wanted to leave the gang and try to turn his life around.
Judge Mabey urged Manuel to take full advantage of all the rehabilitative courses on offer in prison and also on his release.
"Try to remember what I have said to you Mr Manuel, it is never too late to change."
Lawrence Te Kira, 47, was found guilty of two charges of offering to supply methamphetamine to Slobodan Milosevic and one of supplying him with the drug.
He was also found guilty of possession of 3.83g of P for supply when arrested.
Te Kira's lawyer Adam Simperingham argued that his client did not play a significant role in the drug-dealing operation run by Frank and Slobodan Milosevic.
Te Kira's partner's whānau were linked to the Kawerau Mongrel Mob and out of loyalty to his wife, his client felt he could not say no when approached by Slobodan to help source drugs for him, he said.
Simperingham said his client's upbringing and cultural background showed he was basically a people "pleaser" which sometimes impacted on his decision-making.
He urged the judge to take that into account, as well as other personal mitigating factors.
and impose a sentence of home detention.
Simperingham also urged the judge to give Te Kira a significant discount for the time he had spent on electronically-monitored bail awaiting his trial.
He said there was no evidence Te Kira was motivated by financial gain and he had taken significant steps towards rehabilitating himself, and was remorseful for his actions.
The Crown prosecutor submitted a prison sentence starting at five-and-a half-years was justified as Te Kira was no mere intermediary in his drug-dealing offences.
Jenson said Te Kira had acted as a middle man in the drug supply chain and accessed multiple wholesalers to supply ounces of P to others and also ran his own drug operation.
Judge Mabey sentenced Te Kira to four years' prison after giving him a small discount for time spent on electronic-monitored bail and his rehabilitation prospects.
There was no evidence Te Kira was forced to participate in the Milosevics' drug-dealing business nor was he motivated by the need to finance a drug addiction, he said.
Judge Mabey said Te Kira's recent letter of remorse was "too little, too late," and nothing but a prison sentence could be imposed for these serious charges.
Defendants and their charges:
Irene Raki and Frank Milosevic:
Two joint charges of money laundering
Raiha Tawera and Slobodan Milosevic:
Three joint charges of money laundering
Offers to supply methamphetamine
Possession cannabis for sale (4 charges)
Offer to sell cannabis (two charges)
Conspired to sell cannabis
Possession of P for supply.
Unlawful possession of a firearm and a knife
Unlawful possession 278 rounds of ammunition.
Lawrence Te Kira:
Two charges of supplying P
Offer to supply P
Possession of P for supply