Thursday, May 27, 1999

The Dodger Lodges In Style But Has Friends In Low Places

Thursday May 27, 1999


The lawn and the trees are meticulously clipped to an even length, the backyard pool is a sparkling blue and even the hose is neatly rolled onto a reel. It is unreeled at least once a week, neighbours say, when Roger Rogerson carefully soaps down his white Daimler.

For many people, a stint in jail - even a short one - can mean financial ruin, but the man they call The Dodger seems to have landed on his feet since walking through the front gates of Berrima Jail on December 15, 1995, after a three-year stay.

Rogerson and his long-term girlfriend, Anne Melocco, a secretary, bought their dream house at Padstow Heights for $346,000 last year.

It is a good-sized brick house with a swimming pool on one side and the Georges River National Park on the other.

Ms Melocco bought a unit, not long after Rogerson was released, at nearby Georges Hall for $180,000, and Rogerson owns a weekender at Long Jetty.

What is now emerging, through the inquiries by the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the NSW Police Integrity Commission, is that Rogerson has surrounded himself with friends who have been able to smooth his transition back into society.

He is the director of two companies, a building business called Re-Con Holdings and a scaffolding firm, Scafco Pty Ltd. His business card lists him as working for a third company, a demolition, earthmoving and plant-hire outfit, Aramco.

One man who has been working with Rogerson on and off since both of them left Berrima Jail is Arthur Loveday, a feared senior figure in the Bandidos motorcycle gang who has served time for kidnapping, rape and armed robbery, and has escaped from jail twice.

The friendship with Loveday gives Rogerson the muscle and the fear he needs to operate his alleged standover activities, police believe.

Early in 1997, police intelligence suggested that Rogerson was heavily involved in brokering a deal with crime figures in Kings Cross for an orderly carve-up of the drugs trade following the removal of the dominant player, Bill Bayeh.

More recently, Rogerson has been linked to Kostas Kontorinakis, the owner of the Eros Cinema in Goulburn Street, Sydney.

It was suggested to him at the Police Integrity Commission last month that Mr Kontorinakis had been paying him $500 a week protection money.

Rogerson denied this and said the weekly $500 was simply a loan repayment.

Rogerson has also gathered around him a ring of dubious ex-NSW Police such as Ray "Chopper" Johnson, a large, fit-looking man who was pensioned off from the Police Service in 1987. Johnson says now that his only income is his pension.

Several years ago he was charged with a number of serious offences relating to dealing amphetamines.

He was acquitted by a jury, but the judge last year referred a number of matters about other police from that case to the Police Integrity Commission.

Another of Rogerson's pals is Laurence Burgess, a former Bankstown detective who, it was alleged at the PIC this week, told Johnson to pass on information that the ICAC was on Rogerson's trail.

Another of Rogerson's new friends is Boris Link (aka Boris Katic).

In January this year, Rogerson and Link drove to Peats Ridge to look at property, allegedly for the purposes of growing an indoor cannabis crop in a large shed on the land.

Indoor cannabis production is something of a specialty for Link, a former NSW Deputy Sheriff, who in 1994 was jailed for his part in a massive drug operation where large amounts of cannabis were cultivated in rented houses across Sydney.

The ICAC and the PIC are also in the midst of delving into how Rogerson allegedly secured contracts from a corrupt employee at Liverpool Council.

Anne Melocco this week explained some of the business practices of Rogerson Inc at the PIC hearings.

Counsel assisting: "Did anybody from the council, a council employee, ever give you the tender prices of competitors?"

Ms Melocco: "Yes . . . well, in private enterprise it's a fairly common thing. We were putting in prices and it's always natural to ask what the others are quoting, so I did."

Now in small business, as in the police service, Rogerson is ever-determined to seize that unexplained competitive edge.