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Frank Benvenuto

The son of a Melbourne Mafia godfather and brother of a slain gangster has been ordered to spend more than nine years behind bars.

Vince Benvenuto was charged with trafficking large commercial amounts of cocaine, methamphetamines and ecstasy, possession of a weapon, obtaining financial advantage and property by deception and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Dressed in a neat navy suit and tie, Benvenuto kept his gaze steady and wore a blank expression as Judge Jim Duggan delivered his sentence in the Victorian County Court on Thursday.

The court heard Benvenuto, 58, had drifted into selling drugs as a way to finance his own habit, which had begun during a period of animosity with his brother Frank.

A Melbourne Mafia boss and fruiterer, Frank was shot dead outside his Beaumauris home in May 2000.

A large surveillance operation launched by the Purana Taskforce into the 2002 death of Melbourne gangland hitman Victor Pierce began gathering intelligence on Benvenuto in 2006.

Peirce, a member of the infamous Pettingill crime clan, was shot dead as he sat behind the wheel of his car on a Port Melbourne street in 2002.

In July 2008, Benvenuto was charged over Pierce’s murder but was later acquitted.

But as a result of the investigation, Benvenuto was found to be trafficking large amounts of drugs.

Judge Duggan said Benvenuto had established an extensive drug distribution network, dealing with more than 3kg of methamphetamines, more than 1.2kg of cocaine and 43,000 ecstasy tablets and chemicals used to manufacture drugs.

The operation escalated when Benvenuto made threats against an associate and secured a bank loan using fake identification.

‘You are not a naive, immature man,’ Judge Duggan said.

‘You knew the consequences of getting caught.’

Benvenuto is no stranger to the underworld.

Born in Italy, he migrated with his family to Australia as a one-year-old, where his father Liborio ruled as Victoria’s Honoured Society godfather in the 1960s and 70s. He died of natural causes in 1988.

Benvenuto was sentenced to serve nine years and two months’ jail and will become eligible for parole after seven years.