A Roman Catholic diocese in California was reportedly cooperating with the Internal Revenue Service in its investigation of a priest who was recently indicted. The 55-year-old priest, who was the former head of the Vietnamese Catholic Center for the Diocese of San Jose, was indicted for tax evasion and bank fraud by a federal grand jury on April 7.
The accused priest ran the diocese since 1995, but he began a personal leave of absence on Dec. 6, 2013. When he was taken into custody for the tax evasion and fraud charges on April 18, the priest was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He appeared in federal court for the first time on April 20 to face 14 charges of bank fraud and four charges of tax evasion.
The bank fraud charges that were issued against the priest involve 14 donation checks totaling $19,000 that were made out to the Vietnamese Catholic Center from parishioners. According to prosecutors, the priest deposited the checks into his personal bank account. The priest is also accused of underreporting his annual income to the IRS by hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He allegedly owes $349,952 in back taxes as a result of the underreporting.
A person who is facing similar charges may be able to avoid jail time by negotiating a settlement with the IRS and agreeing to pay back any misplaced donation funds as restitution. An attorney may be able to help someone in this situation to argue for reduced charges and arrange a financial settlement with the IRS.
Source: KRON, "San Jose priest indicted on charges of bank fraud and tax evasion," Molly Martinez, April 20, 2015