Mark Imbrogno leaves court in August. Nazar Karabidian was earlier found guilty by a jury.
Lee Rix leaves the County Court in August.
Two men who kidnapped, injured and made extortion threats to a self-confessed liar, con-man and fraudster were today each jailed by a Melbourne judge for five years.
Mark Imbrogno and Nazar Karabidian were earlier found guilty by a jury, which heard Lee Rix lied as easily as he breathed.
Judge Phillip Coish today told the pair the kidnap in broad daylight was a “brazen act” and that they had “taken the law into your own hands” as he sentenced each to three years behind bars.
Judge Coish found the purpose of that offence was to try to “bring the victim to account” for the money he owed Karabidian and to force him to repay it.
Two days before the pair assaulted and kidnapped “a terrified” Rix in Geelong in 2010, Karabidian profusely thanked Imbrogno – “my shadow and right arm” – for his trust, respect and loyalty.
Prosecutor Diana Manova said Karabidian had enlisted Imbrogno because of his size, readiness for violence and preparedness to pressure Rix, 51, to repay money.
In her trial opening, Ms Manova said Rix, who is also known by three other names, owed at the time $500,000 to various people and in May, 2010, was hiding from Karabidian.
Ms Manova said Karabidian, 38, repeatedly asked Rix for money, which a witness would say was $400,000, but he had refused to pay it back.
Rix had phoned a friend to have her ask Karabidian for more time, which she did, but later Karabidian told her he had a friend that people called the “flesh eater” because he took his tool box with him and drilled people’s flesh, Ms Manova said.
After weeks of repeatedly requesting money from Rix, Karabidian and Imbrogno, 41, found him in Geelong, attacked him and drove him to Thornbury.
Ms Manova said Imbrogno cut Rix’s face and threatened him with a screwdriver before they drove to Anglesea, secretly followed by the police special operations group.
It was there, in a caravan as the three ate pizzas, drank beer and watched the Brownlow Medal count, that the SOG arrested the men and freed Rix.
The jury found Imbrogno and Karabidian guilty of intentionally injuring and kidnapping Rix and extorting him with threats of inflicting injury.
During the County Court trial the jury heard about the man called the “flesh-eater” who drilled people’s bodies, Karabidian’s respect for Imbrogno and how Rix, a self-confessed liar, con-man and fraudster, hid from Karabidian because he owed him about $400,000.
Barristers for both men, who pleaded not guilty and who did not give evidence, disputed Rix’s claims and attacked him as a witness without credit.
In evidence, Rix said Karabidian was then his best friend, a fellow gambler, they worked in finance together and the pair often owed one another money.
He told Ms Manova he agreed to get in the car with Karabidian “if he keeps Mark away” because he was terrified of him.
After leaving Thornbury together, Rix said they drove to Anglesea and went to a pizza shop.
He told the jury: ” … and when we were doing that … I found it a bit strange, when I was in the pizza shop, I still had bloodstained, you know, there was … my lip was split open, I was bleeding, it was pretty obvious I’d been in something.
“They didn’t seem to notice, or the pizza shop went around like nothing was happening. And then we walked along the main street of Anglesea.”
They bought beer and started eating the pizza in the caravan and “then I think the Brownlow came on, you know the count”.
Rix said he told Imbrogno to go outside to smoke a cigarette and then Karabidian got a phone call and “I could hear ‘get on the floor, get on the floor’, and I looked up and Mark had red dots on his chest and people yelling at him to get down and take his hands out of his pockets …”
The SOG had announced their appearance.
He agreed with David Glynn, for Imbrogno, he had lied to and tricked people out of money over 15 years, but denied his “entire story” of abduction and extortion was a “pack of lies”.
He agreed he had defrauded people in at least two states of thousands of dollars – and was now wanted in NSW – and once entered a bank and asked the manager “if I could have $50,000 because I was being threatened”.
But Rix admitted that was a lie and he had done that because he had a debt.
Mr Glynn asked: “Let me put to you that you are a very successful liar, what do you say about that?”
“I’ve got nothing to say about it,” he replied.
Mr Glynn: “In fact I suggest that lying to you comes about as natural as breathing?”
Rix: “I don’t agree.”
Mr Glynn: “I suggest to you that you’re the sort of person who could sell ice to the Eskimos?”
Rix: “I’m a trained salesman.”
Rix denied a suggestion by Terry Sullivan, for Karabidian, that a woman whose child had cancer begged him for some of the money he owed her so the child could have a scan.
He agreed with Dr Sullivan he had “good persuasive skills” when selling something, but said it was wrong to suggest that when he took money from people did not have a conscience about it.
In her final address, Ms Manova told the jury no one liked con-men or liars, but “you are not here to like or dislike anyone”, rather to act impartially without emotion, fear or prejudice.
The judge said in his sentencing remarks that Karabidian was the instigator and organiser of the kidnapping who had enlisted Imbrogno’s help.
Judge Coish said Imbrogno was an active and willing participant who had acted aggressively and violently.
He said Rix had a long history of owing money to people and that because of the offences his previous state of paranoia had worsened.
Rix now experienced difficulty sleeping and was depressed, anxious and lonely.
Judge Coish said Imbrogno had developed a strong bond with Karabidian who had encouraged and supported him in late 2009 when he was unemployed and at a low ebb.
Letters from his wife, mother and a priest showed a good side to Imbrogno’s character, the judge said.
Character witnesses described Karabidian as a gregarious man who helped people out and who maintained good relations with his wife and son.
The judge said offences of this type must be discouraged and assessed both men’s rehabilitation prospects as “reasonably good”.
He ordered both to serve a minimum of three years less 112 days.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.