Travel agent Jordan Dittloff, the former high-profile Young Liberals president and Rotary member who stole thousands of dollars from his clients, has been sent to prison for stealing AUD 277,000 from 47 different clients.
Dittloff was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for stealing. He will be eligible for parole in 18 months and will then have to serve a two-year community corrections order that includes 200 hours of community work, ABC News reported yesterday.
Dittloff, 28, of Birregurra (a town about 130 kilometres southwest of Melbourne), pleaded guilty. Victims included the local Otway Plains scouting group and the mother of his then fiancée.
The Otway Plains scouts had raised AUD 30,000 for a community service trip to Fiji.
Earlier, 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.
In sentencing, County Court Judge Gerard Mullaly said Dittloff’s crimes revealed a galling level of greed and entitlement, ABC News reported.
Judge Mullaly said the amounts stolen from each client ranged from AUD 1000 up to AUD 33,000 but victims suffered a similar sense of betrayal and anxiety.
Dittloff was a well known member of the Colac community and portrayed himself as a community-minded person, adding to his moral culpability, Judge Mullaly said.
Dittloff started taking drugs in his early 20s,the court heard, and was using hard drugs including cocaine and ‘ice’ (a crystalline form of the drug methamphetamine) up to four times a day in the run-up to unexpectedly closing the business in May 2015.
Six of Dittloff’s victims were in court to hear the sentencing. According to Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, some victims “mumbled disgust under their breath” when the sentence was pronounced.
Many of the victims had spent longer saving for the dream holidays Dittloff stole from them then he will spend behind bars, the paper pointed out.
While the Travel Compensation Fund is no longer around to refund the money Dittloff stole, there is a slight hope. He has written a letter to his victims, apologising for his actions.
“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.”
Written by Peter Needham