An accused cocaine dealer allegedly found with more than $74,000 cash in his home and car says the money came from operating game machines and selling French bulldog puppies.
Michael Meredith was arrested in Dapto on Thursday afternoon while he was allegedly in the middle of a drug deal.
Lake Illawarra police started investigating the 27-year-old back in April in relation to the alleged supply of cocaine.
Over the course of the investigation, police alleged, Meredith was seen parking his vehicle in Baan Baan Street, Dapto, where a person would get in for 10 to 30 seconds before leaving.
On June 3, police stopped one of these people and allegedly found them in possession of a white powder they said was cocaine, in a bag with a purple ziplock.
Then about 5pm on Thursday, as a person got into Meredith's car on the same street, police swooped.
When officers asked Meredith to get out of the vehicle, they saw $250 on the seat and $150 on the floor.
It was alleged the person who had just gotten into the car had handed that cash to Meredith.
Meredith allegedly told police, "It was money owed to me".
Police allegedly found $530 in Meredith's wallet, and three mobile phones.
Inside the casing of the centre console, they allegedly discovered a plastic bag containing 14 resealable bags with purple ziplocks, each holding white powder, and a shopping bag with $47,950 in bundles of $50 and $100 notes.
Police also stopped a vehicle that had been parked nearby but left when they arrived; the driver allegedly said they attended to buy $500 of cocaine from someone named "MM".
Their phone allegedly contained conversations with a contact "MM" that showed they had been purchasing cocaine since late 2020, generally meeting in Baan Baan Street.
Officers also searched Meredith's Dapto home, where they allegedly found $26,050 in $50 and $100 notes, hundreds of ziplock bags, scales, 200 grams of a white crystal substance, and 1.65 grams of cannabis.
He was subsequently charged with knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime, drug supply, and drug possession.
On Friday, Meredith appeared at Wollongong Local Court from the police cells to apply for bail.
Police prosecutor Sergeant James Sala opposed bail, saying Meredith posed a risk to the community, failing to appear at court, and committing serious offences.
Sergeant Sala said the alleged offending was "very serious", and if convicted Meredith would face a sentence of full-time imprisonment.
The prosecution's case was strong, he said, and bail conditions would not stop Meredith's alleged offending.
Meredith's defence lawyer, Arjun Chhabra, said the likelihood of a trial was "very high", but the matter was not likely to go to trial for 18 months.
Mr Chhabra said the proceeds of crime charge was the most serious, and the prosecution case tied the cash found to income from drugs.
But he spoke to an affidavit prepared by a family friend that said Meredith had two cash business: 'Exotic Frenchies', which sold French bulldog pups for $5000 to $15,000 each; and 'Prize Play', an arcade game machine business that brought in on average $2500 per week.
If his client was not granted bail he would spend a long time on remand, Mr Chhabra said, but he had a viable defence and a "real chance of acquittal" on the proceeds charge.
He said the case on the drug supply charge was strong, but a sentence of full-time custody was not inevitable.
Mr Chhabra proposed bail conditions he said would effectively amount to house arrest.
"This decimates the alleged modus operandi," he said.
But magistrate Chris McRobert said that to his mind, there was an "inevitable connection" between the cash and the alleged sale of drugs.
He said Meredith was not helped by his record, noting the first matter that brought him before the courts involved drugs.
Magistrate McRobert said he was of the view that the accused man appeared to be a person who derived a substantial income from trafficking, and refused Meredith bail.
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