Tax cheat priest’s jail time reduced

A PRIEST has had 12 months cut from his jail sentence for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth with schemes that would have caused a $3.2 million tax shortfall.

John Reginald Cuffe, the Orthodox Catholic Church priest in Caboolture during the tax minimisation schemes in the 1999 and 2000 tax years, was one of three men involved.

He played a critical role in facilitating the charity scheme, issuing receipts for donations so scheme participants could claim deductions, and signed an agreement to allow the church's building fund to lend a developer $25 million for a retirement village at Caloundra.

Stephen Brian Cox was the "controlling mind" behind the enterprise which involved duping investors to give money to Cuffe's church and the Caloundra retirement village scheme.

He tried to appeal his conviction and sentence - nine years and 11 months - in the Court of Appeal but was not successful on either.

Cuffe also did not succeed in appealing his conviction but he and Peter James Morrison had their head sentences reduced from six to five years.

The appeal court also reduced their non-parole period from three to two-and-a-half years.

Authorities estimated the company received more than $4.25 million for the 1999 and 2000 income tax years. Most of the balance after expenses went to Cox but Cuffe is believed to have benefited about $94,000.



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