Controversial winery proprietor, father, and known-underworld figure Tony Sergi has passed away without ever being charged for his alleged role in the murder of anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay.
The Calabrian mafia godfather, reportedly ordered the death of Mr Mackay in 1977, and died on Sunday, October 29 – his birthday.
Mr Sergi was well-known in the Riverina region and had a mixed reputation.
Some praised him for his community efforts in Griffith – where the Warburn Estate has been owned by the Sergi family since the 1950s – while others weren’t so forthcoming to his character because of his links to the underworld.
Mr Sergi rose to prominence after being identified in a Royal Commission into drug trafficking, according to former The Area News editor and Griffith Wars co-author Terry Jones.
“Unfortunately for him and Australia when he arrived in the country in the 1950s, he decided he would throw in his lot with Bob Trimbole and grow crops of marijuana in 1974,” he said.
“From that point forward, they were dealing commercial crops of marijuana up to $80 million at Coleambally in 1975 alone.”
Former Concerned Citizens of Griffith chairman Dr Richard Smith did not know Mr Sergi, but said he “was clearly identified” in the Woodward Royal Commission.
“Systematically having made their money through illegal means, they seek to re-project themselves as honest and good citizens,” Dr Smith said.
He said it is common for such kinds of people to “wish to be honoured in society, that’s a basic human thing, and Tony would’ve been the same”.
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