Sydney publican in court over drug offences after sting operation

Catie McLeodNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

A well-known Sydney publican has pleaded guilty to drug charges after a six-month sting that also snared one of the city’s most famous private investigators.

Paddington hotelier Robert Moroney, 49, was caught in possession of cocaine in Darlinghurst on the night of November 21 after police stopped him in his vehicle.

Police seized $1300 cash, mobile phones and 25g of cocaine after searching Mr Moroney, his car and his hotel room on College Street.

His arrest came after a covert operation by the Kings Cross drug unit that also led to multiple separate charges for colourful private-eye Frank Monte.

Mr Moroney appeared before Downing Centre Local Court in December where he was granted bail to appear again this year.

His lawyer on Tuesday entered two guilty pleas on behalf of his client, to supplying a prohibited drug and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime to the value of $1373.20.

Captain Cook Hotel
Camera IconPublican Robert Moroney has pleaded guilty to two drug offences. Jonathan Ng Credit: News Corp Australia

A legal representative for NSW police told the court they would withdraw a third charge against Mr Moroney.

Mr Moroney, who remains on bail, was not required to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday.

His lawyer asked for the matter to be adjourned until Mr Moroney is scheduled to appear in the same court for an alleged driving offence, which his lawyer said was related to his other charges.

Deputy registrar Nicole Hoffmann granted the adjournment, with Mr Moroney due to be sentenced on February 11.

Mr Moroney made headlines in 2020 when he changed the name of his venue from the Captain Cook hotel to Captain Paddington as the Black Lives Matter movement swept across the globe.

Mr Moroney said at the time he was surprised to be in the news, telling The Daily Telegraph the name change was nothing more than a rebrand to give the venue a “fresh face”.

The hotel reportedly sold in an off-market deal for $10.5 million in August the following year.

NWN Library
Camera IconFamous Sydney PI Frank Monte was charged following a police sting. File Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Monte, real name Frank Montanari, was arrested on December 14 at his home in McEvoy Street, Waterloo as a result of the same police operation that saw Mr Moroney charged.

The flamboyant private sleuth had allegedly used multiple fraudulent bank cards to withdraw cash on numerous occasions at an eastern suburbs ATM earlier in 2020, which sparked the drug unit investigation, NSW Police said at the time of his arrest.

Police on December 14 searched Mr Monte’s home and a nearby storage unit where they allege they seized multiple bank cards, which are suspected to be fraudulent, almost $24,000 in cash, electronic stun devices, ammunition, extendable batons, OC spray, and road spikes.

Mr Monte was charged with 23 offences, including dishonestly obtaining property by deception, recklessly dealing with proceeds of crime over $5000, and possessing or using a prohibited weapon without a permit.

He remains on bail and is next due to appear in court on February 15.

Originally published as Sydney publican in court over drug offences after sting operation

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