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Twelve distinguished Akerman lawyers in South Florida were selected in their areas of practice ... and three categories within Real Estate and Construction – Construction, Land Use/Zoning and Real Estate.

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A former real estate agent who helped establish marijuana crops in 23 rental properties that produced more than 500 kilograms of the drug has been sentenced to a three-year community correction order.Roque Salazar-Rodriguez, 38, was the senior property manager with the Barry Plant real estate office in Epping, outside Melbourne, when he offended between December 2012, and the following March.The County Court heard on Wednesday that Salazar-Rodriguez helped facilitate the growers of the crops to use the properties by assuring the landlords their properties were rented legitimately by reliable tenants.It included creating falsehoods to prevent landlords either inspecting the properties or making further enquiries about late payments of rent and delaying inspections.Judge Christopher Ryan was told that a co-defendant, Costakis Georgiou - who has pleaded guilty to his role but has not been sentenced - was the middle man between the growers and Salazar-Rodriguez.Judge Ryan heard that when he voluntarily met police in March last year, Salazar-Rodriguez provided a list of properties made available to Georgiou for rental, claiming that Georgiou was introduced to him by one of his employers.AdvertisementSalazar-Rodriguez claimed that Georgiou told him he wanted properties for Vietnamese families that earned cash money with no rental history and who did not speak English.Prosecutor Danny Holding earlier told the court that most of the landlords trusted Salazar-Rodriguez because of his position and the reputation of Barry Plant.Salazar-Rodrigueze told police he received gifts from Georgiou but that he felt "stupid that I was used".He said: "When I realised what was happening I was in too deep and I wanted to weave my way out of it slowly without making them upset ..because they told me if the police find out, that person (who went to the police) is gonna be found in pieces in the bush."Salazar-Rodriguez, of Craigieburn, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the cultivation of a commercial quantity of marijuana.In his sentencing remarks, Judge Ryan noted Salazar-Rodriguez's background in El Salvador amid "extreme violence", not knowing his father and being "farmed out" by his mother before arriving in Australia.Assessed by medical experts with having suffered for many years with post traumatic stress syndrome from his early life, it was clear he had also sought treatment for it before he offended, he said.Judge Ryan said given that his mental state would worsen in jail, he told the father of four that "any sentence of imprisonment will weigh more heavily on you" than someone in normal health.His pastor wrote of Salazar-Rodriguez's devotion to his family and faith and his shame at the offending.Judge Ryan said Salazar-Rodriguez, who had now established a fencing business, was a hardworking family man who had "overcome adversity rarely seen in this country" and that it was important he maintained his faith and addressed his psychological issues.He was sentenced to a three-year community correction order with a number of conditions that included doing 300 hours of unpaid work.

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