THE owner of Bendigo live music venue Music Man allegedly sold more than 100 MDMA capsules, a gram of cocaine, LSD tabs and ecstasy pills to undercover police during a covert operation earlier this year, a court has heard.
Paul Tzountzourkas, 42, was arrested during a raid on the venue on Wednesday and charged with drug trafficking, possession and possessing a firearm. He was refused bail in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court on Thursday.
Tzountzourkas claims he was selling drugs in order to address the mounting costs of running the Williamson Street venue, the court heard.
He allegedly sold drugs to police on three nights in July and August.
Just after midnight on July 29, Tzountzourkas allegedly sold three LSD tabs to officers.
He allegedly sold five ecstasy pills, a gram of cocaine and five MDMA capsules to police on August 11, and a further 100 MDMA caps to officers on August 31.
The 100 caps had an estimated value of $1700, the court was told.
Some of the alleged sales occurred in a first-floor office, and others were on the upper floors.
Police raided the premises on Wednesday afternoon where they found 12 more MDMA caps, a small bag of amphetamine and a small bag of cocaine, as well as small amounts of cannabis.
A .22 rifle without a bolt was found in the first-floor office, which Tzountzourkas claimed was purely ornamental and intended to be mounted on a wall.
Tzountzourkas admitted to the cannabis possession but denied all other allegations during a police interview.
Defence counsel Kate Youngson said the business was likely to shut down if Tzountzourkas was denied bail, resulting in job losses and the loss of another live venue in Bendigo’s CBD.
“The offending is out of desperation. He has some financial problems, he was doing that to make some extra money,” she said.
“He was stupid to do so.
“He’s now been caught, there is no way he’s going to do that again.”
Tzountzourkas lives on the third floor of Music Man and is also the operator of the venue, managing lighting and audio for live events. He originally intended to turn the building into a retail outlet but it was unable to be rezoned, leading him to establish a bar and live music venue.
Ms Youngson said police would be able to check on him at random times to ensure he was compliant with bail conditions.
But police prosecutor Richard Epskamp said Tzountzourkas would still have the temptation to offend while on bail given the ongoing financial issues.
“There are a litany of different drugs,” he said.
“It almost smacks of a ‘what you need, I can get it’ scenario.
“That is far too great a risk to take to just expect, ‘oh I’ve been caught now, I won’t do it again’.”
Ms Youngson said Tzountzourkas intended to plead guilty to charges at the earliest opportunity.
Magistrate Megan Aumair denied bail, saying a term of imprisonment was within range and Tzountzourkas was a risk of re-offending.
“It is a menacing-looking firearm, and in combination with the drugs that were found, it’s very serious,” she said.
“There is no compelling reason to justify granting bail.”
Tzountzourkas was refused bail and will next appear in court on October 15.