|Over a criminal career spanning decades, Rocco Calabrese has demonstrated a willingness to pinch almost anything, from gold bricks to tonnes of prawns and luxury cars. With slick charm and a knack for hiding in plain sight, the prolific conman has swindled a small fortune from businesses, the wealthy and even associates of underworld identities.|
But Calabrese, also known as Rocco De Gonza and a host of other aliases, is now facing more than 70 fraud and deception charges allegedly racked up during a crime spree that dates back at least seven years."The guy is more slippery than an eel swimming in olive oil."
|Calabrese's penchant for bling and designer clothes is part of an image he created to look successful and "connected". When caught out in scam, he would often claim to be a close mate of Mick Gatto.|
"I don't know the guy. My name gets thrown around like confetti and people who do that deserve a good belting," Mr Gatto told The Sunday Age.
|Calabrese, who had amassed at least three dozen criminal convictions by 2010, came to the attention of Victorian authorities again in late 2011, just months after being released from jail on a "good behaviour" bond. Police arrested Calabrese after a stolen Maserati he was driving ran out of petrol in the middle of the city.|
Investigations revealed Calabrese had been using fake cheques and bank transfers to scam everything from seafood to luxury cars. The bankrupt had set up a shell company, Gourmet Produce Pantry, as a front to steal 5500 kilograms of prawns worth more than $82,000.
Calabrese has pleaded guilty to five charges in the County Court stemming from these scams and will be sentenced next year. A medical expert has claimed he suffers from "encapsulated psychotic disorder", a diagnosis that is under review.