The judge wasn't sure if the person in the dock was a con man who was also a drug dealer or a drug dealer with a sideline as a con man, but the jail time worked out the same either way.
A family crisis had brought Ahmed Mamdouh from Egypt to New Zealand when he was 26. Well brought up and with a law degree, he initially thrived, but after a few years he started using drugs.
He sold both fake drugs and real ones to get the money he needed to finance his habit.
In the dock in Wellington District Court today dressed in a prison-issued sweatshirt and black shorts, Mamdouh, 38, was sentenced to three years and three months' jail.
Police had targeted him in late 2010 and recovered text messages from phones he was thought to use.
When the operation wrapped up on April 6, 2011, Mamdouh was arrested at a TAB on Courtenay Place. He had a small number of morphine sulphate tablets. He also had small squares of cardboard that police suspected to be impregnated with LSD and pills they thought would turn out to be illicit drugs. Analysis showed neither were illegal substances.
Judge Ian Mill said it was possible that some of the text message offers to supply drugs would have been to supply the fake drugs.
"You are either a con man who is a drug dealer or a drug dealer who is a con man," the judge said.
Another of Mamdouh's cons had been to pose as a Brazillian tourist and approach a stranger asking to borrow money because his car had been towed.
The judge said Mamdouh preyed on his victims' goodwill and obtained thousands of dollars.
All sorts of fictions and sob stories were deployed, he said.
When Mamdouh gets out of prison he is to start repaying $3300 to one victim and $160 to another.
His lawyer Barbara Hunt said that with a law degree there was some hope for Mamdouh's future.
He had pleaded guilty to offering to supply LSD, cocaine, morphine sulphate tablets and cannabis, supplying morphine sulphate, conspiring to supply ecstasy, and fraud charges of obtaining by deception and conspiring to obtain by deception.
- The Dominion Post
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