Mum’s vote trouble after police drug sting on barber son
The mother of a barber shop owner who is charged with cocaine trafficking has been convicted and fined $750 for voting on behalf of her son at last year's State election.
Koula Langanis, the mother of insta-famous barber Michael Langanis, was arrested as a result of conversations with her son, intercepted by police in an operation targeting drug trafficking.
Mrs Langanis pleaded guilty in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday to a charge of voting at an election more than once and voting in the name of son Michael Anthony Langanis, between October 1 and November 1, last year.
Michael Langanis, 25, the owner of Langanis Barber shops in Brisbane city, Teneriffe and West End, was charged in December with 27 charges, including cocaine trafficking.
The court heard phone interceptions by police picked up a conversation at 8.28pm on October 29 last year, between Michael Langanis and his mother, about needing to vote at the election.
Mrs Langanis said: "I did it for you already. It's the weekend coming, but we've already voted. I did it by postal vote. I did it for you".
Police prosecutor Senior Constable David Barnes said Michael Langanis talked about needing to attend the voting centre on election day.
His mother replied: " I did it for you, so you don't have to go".
Snr Const. Barnes said Mrs Langanis made a false declaration, on official Australian Electoral Commission voting papers, voting for a second time, on behalf of her son.
The crime carries a maximum penalty of three years' jail.
Defence lawyer Andrew Hanlon said Langanis's son asked her to fill out the form for him, because he did not have the time to do so, but she did not appreciate just how serious it was.
"What, putting someone else's signature on the bottom of the form? That's why it's so serious, dishonesty," Magistrate Anne Thacker said.
Ms Thacker said Koula Langanis, who was on probation at the time, had a "dreadful history" for dishonesty offences.
She said putting someone else's signature on the bottom of a voting form was serious.
"It underlies the very democracy under which Australians live,'' Ms Thacker said.
"If we can't rely on the electoral system, in every aspect, including knowing that people vote their one vote for themselves and no one else, the whole system could come crashing down.
"Australia does not want to live like some other countries where other ways of being managed are not acceptable to the Australian way, should not creep into our Australian lifestyle.
"That's how important it is.
Ms Thacker told Langanis she could not continue to look out for her children and other family members, to her own detriment.
The magistrate said she had considered a prison sentence, but said it was not right that she should go to prison because her son was "too lazy to get his act together to get his vote done".
"At the end of the day it's not your responsibility to be voting for your son,'' Ms Thacker said.
The magistrate fined Langanis $750 and recorded a conviction.
In the same court, Simone Presta, Langanis Barber business manager for the three Langanis Barber shops, also appeared on four drug-related charges.
Presta, 29, pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis and MDMA or ecstasy, and possession of utensils on December 11, last year.
Snr Const. Barnes said Presta was charged as a result of a police operation by Fortitude Valley CIB targeting cocaine, with Michael Langanis the main target.
The court heard after Presta was detained with Langanis he admitted he had used a phone to purchase cannabis.
When his home was searched, police found two grams of cannabis, grinders and scales, seeds and a capsule of MDMA, Snr Const. Barnes said.
A lawyer said Presta, who was born in Italy and came to Australia in 2016, had made a poor choice to use cannabis to manage stress from managing a number of businesses.
As Presta had no previous convictions, Ms Thacker placed him on a four month $2000 good behaviour bond, with a condition that he attend a drug diversion course.
Originally published as Mum's vote trouble after police drug sting on barber son