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Ex-lawyer jailed over ‘cashies’ from clients scheme

Taking “cashies” instead of putting legal fees through trust accounts was the lifestyle choice that ended the career of a high-profile criminal lawyer.

For more than four years Michael Frederick Bosscher banked on the trust people had in experienced solicitors to formulate a scheme that enabled him to circumvent the law by taking under-the-table payments.

The now 55-year-old was handed a jail sentence on Friday after a jury earlier found him guilty of fraud and falsifying records to conceal his crime.

Bosscher’s scheme attracted major criminal figures as large sums of money were not reported, reducing the chance of alerting authorities, Brisbane District Court Judge Leanne Clare said.

There were no records or receipts, making it impossible to determine exactly how much Bosscher received.

But Judge Clare said it was accepted the total amount obtained fraudulently was at least $520,000, while Bosscher’s portion could be $158,000.

When faced with requests for records that did not exist, Bosscher induced a colleague to fabricate records in a way that was unlikely to be detected.

Bosscher made decisions about what was needed on records to keep the company afloat and about what he could get away with.

There was evidence of thousands of dollars being handed over in a shopping bag of cash and messages showing money was distributed among lawyers although electronic communication were deliberately vague.

The scheme came to light after Bosscher’s partner Tim Meehan approached the Crime and Corruption Commission, providing the scaffolding for an investigation.

Judge Clare said she accepted the evidence of Meehan – who was jailed in 2017 after admitting fraud – finding it for the most part compelling.

“As shocking as Meehan’s evidence was, it was, in respect of the bags of cash and your involvement, very credible, especially with the supporting evidence.”

To obtain information on Bosscher, investigators had to painstakingly search through files, court records and financial documents and interview clients.

“The extent to which information was obtained was dependent on the memory and willingness of clients to co-operate,” Judge Clare said.

Bosscher was the controlling partner, most senior lawyer and dominant personality.

He started the scheme and recruited other lawyers, including one who had not worked for anyone else.

“You were his mentor, he respected you, you led him astray by normalizing principles of a cash economy,” Judge Clare told Bosscher.

“You fostered a corrupt environment where young lawyers were just learning their trade.”

Judge Clare said Bosscher involved them in what he was doing, with them receiving “cashies” which were not processed through reception.

He had the opportunity to do good but instead brought his profession into disrepute, continuing to offend for a long time.

“It was not some isolated aberration but a lifestyle choice,” Judge Clare said.

She sentenced Bosscher to a total of 10 years in jail. He has been behind bars since being found guilty in November.

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