Disgraced travel agent Jordan Dittloff, 28, is studying for a Bachelor of Business and “a number of courses” while in prison so he will have better prospects on release, the Geelong Advertiser has reported.
Dittloff explained this on Friday when he appeared in Melbourne County Court via video link from Beechworth Prison. He asked Judge Mark Taft to convert a AUD 1000 fine to prison time, so that he could serve it at the same time as his sentence for stealing more than AUD 277,000 from clients of his Colac travel agency Ace Travel.
The judge agreed, substituting seven days’ prison (to be served concurrently with Dittloff’s sentence) for the fine. This effectively cancels the fine as Dittloff, a former prominent Geelong Young Liberal and Rotarian, will no longer have to pay it and won’t have to spend any longer in prison than he would have spent anyway.
The Geelong Advertiser said it was unclear whether the fine related to the 47 counts of theft for which Dittloff received three years’ jail earlier this year, or his drug-trafficking offences, for which he received six months’ jail last year.
The paper added that Dittloff had never explained what happened to the stolen funds, which included money belonging to a scout troop that had raised cash to travel to Fiji to volunteer, and his soon-to-be mother-in-law’s 70th birthday money.
At time of sentencing earlier this year, the court heard tragic tales of the devastation and heartbreak wrought by Dittloff, who asked his clients if they were looking forward to their holidays, prepared fake itineraries for them – and then stole their money, which they cannot recover.
When Dittloff was sentenced, he was reported to have written a letter to his victims: “While I understand that my word carries very little weight at the moment, I want those who are owed money by me to know that I intend to repay all my debts, including to those businesses who were owed outstanding bills at the time of my agency’s closure,” he wrote.
“At present I have no cash or assets and will be unable to make any repayments while I am in jail, but on my release I will begin to work towards making good on my debts.” See: Dodgy travel agent Dittloff goes to jail, pledges to repay
In sentencing at that time, County Court Judge Gerard Mullaly said Dittloff’s crimes revealed a galling level of greed and entitlement, ABC News reported.
On Friday, Dittloff told Judge Taft “mismanagement and inexperience” had led to his business failing, the Geelong Advertiser said.
Dittloff gave his earliest release date as 1 October 2017, a little over a year away. He said he was hopeful of finding employment again and reiterated that he would begin repaying the debts when he was released.
Written by Peter Needham