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Vic man's public purse fraud almost $100k

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016 Caitlin Guilfoyle

A Victorian man who defrauded almost $100,000 from the public purse has not repaid a single dollar.

Antonio Datillo used false documents to dishonestly claim a $95,000 GST refund from the Australian Taxation Office between February and April 2010.

He tried the scheme a second time - in a bid to nab a further $82,500 - but that refund wasn't processed because the ATO began an audit, the Victorian County Court has heard.

Datillo, of Point Cook, was sentenced to six months in jail on Wednesday but released immediately on a $1000 recognisance order.

That means he must be of good behaviour for two years.

The 43-year-old was also handed a two-year community corrections order, which includes 180 hours of unpaid work and treatment for mental health issues.

A forensic psychologist has diagnosed Datillo with an adjustment disorder as well as depression and anxiety related to financial stress - including failed businesses - and his court case.

Datillo moved to Melbourne from Italy in 1998, establishing a number of businesses and buying properties.

"The funds that were paid to you by the ATO, following your false claim, were spent on such commitments as mortgage and car payments, suggesting that you were trying to keep your head above water in efforts to preserve the lifestyle you and the family had established," Judge Wendy Wilmoth said.

"In that sense, the motivation was not one of need, but should be classified as greed when observed objectively as the dishonest taking of funds from the public purse."

Datillo, who has a prior conviction for a similar offence, has not repaid any of the money he took.

He pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining financial advantage by deception and one count of attempting to do so.

The charges were not laid until almost four years after the ATO began its audit.

"The delay before charges were filed was unacceptable and should be taken into account to some extent in reducing the sentence," Judge Wilmoth said.

She also ordered Datillo to repay the money.

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