April 18, 2024


Inspired By Travel

Officer accused of telling travel agent to pay $20,000 to avoid theft inquiry


When she later told her employer she would be pursuing the company for unpaid wages, the travel agency did not respond.

Emails obtained by The Age and A Current Affair reveal the agency forwarded her message to Dean, from the Melbourne criminal investigation unit – the same officer who dropped his card in the woman’s mail.

“I have instructed Odyssey Travel that my criminal investigation holds precedence over your clients [sic] civil dispute,” Dean wrote to the woman’s lawyer from his police email account.

“As such, Odyssey Travel will not be providing any further material pending the result of the criminal investigation.”

The woman’s lawyer, Kurt Esser, has questioned why an officer would write on behalf of a private company.

The woman was interviewed three times, including on two occasions when the “informal” interrogation was allegedly not recorded, contrary to police protocol, the affidavit claims.

It is alleged that without an interpreter present, Dean told the Chinese national, who speaks limited English, she was suspected of stealing between $50,000 and $100,000 from the travel agency.

On the second occasion the woman was brought into the station, Dean was allegedly sitting beside Cheng “Christine” Zhang, Odyssey’s owner.

“If you pay Christine $20,000 then I will discontinue my investigation of your theft,” Dean said, according to the affidavit.

She was interrogated a third time and charged with theft.

In the same year, Dean and two family members allegedly received tickets to Bangkok and Hong Kong, including four flights from the travel agency for round trips worth thousands of dollars.

They were a gift to Dean as the invoices were billed to the company and not him, according to the travel agent’s affidavit.

Following a lack of evidence, the charges against the travel agent were withdrawn in court in May last year and the Chief Commissioner of Police was ordered to pay her legal costs.

The anti-corruption watchdog will hold public hearings next week, investigating whether Dean misused his position to “improperly influence parties to, or persons involved in, civil disputes or litigation”, and whether he attempted to pervert the course of justice by falsifying documents.

Solicitor Marin Karlos, of Carbone Lawyers, helped the woman obtain a payout against Odyssey following “severe psychiatric injuries”.

“My client’s WorkCover claim was initially rejected on the alleged basis that she was the subject of an investigation of financial theft – an accusation that my client has at all times vehemently rejected,” Karlos said.

“Our client awaits the outcome of the IBAC investigation and considers that the conduct of the employer and all parties involved to be suspicious, to say the least.”

Dean has been suspended from duty pending the investigation, Victoria Police confirmed.

Comment has been sought from Odyssey Travel. Dean was unable to be reached for comment.

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