He said the letter from Drefyus’ department listed the cost of preparing for a senior counsel and attorney at $37,000, not including $11,500 in payments for psychological and psychiatric evaluations.
Payne said if legal aid from the Commonwealth were replaced with NSW legal aid funding, there was a risk that a new solicitor would need to be briefed to represent Cranston.
The cost to the community “would be exponentially greater” if someone else had to familiarize themselves with the issues of the process, and “can result in duplication and a waste of scarce public resources,” the judge said.
He said his chambers had received an email from Legal Aid NSW saying a decision on a pending application from Cranston was not expected until early June.
Payne said there was a public interest in a speedy conviction by the court, noting that this is “one of the most serious federal tax crimes that has ever been successfully prosecuted in this country.”
“It’s the community that I’m concerned about here,” the judge said.
He said he also has a duty to ensure that no injustice is done to the accused and that a fair hearing takes place.
Payne stressed the importance of general deterrence in sentencing “to send a message to others who might be tempted to steal the tax system that the courts will not tolerate that behavior.”
“The longer Mr Cranston’s sentencing hearing is delayed… the more watered down that message of general deterrence becomes,” he said.
He said he accepts responsibility for funding legal aid at Legal Aid NSW in a “normal” Commonwealth case being pursued in NSW courts.
“This is not an ordinary or common case,” Payne said.
He adjourned the matter until June 13.
Cranston and his conspirators skimmed PAYG (pay as you go) withholding tax and GST from money received from legitimate customers of the Plutus Payroll company instead of remitting it to the IRS.
Plutus and eight second-tier companies within its structure would have paid more than $141.3 million to PAYG and GST between March 2014 and May 2017, but $105 million was misappropriated.
At trial, the Crown said Adam Cranston used funds on luxury cars including Mercedes and Porsche, an airplane and properties in Miranda and Burraneer in south Sydney and Vacy in the Hunter.
Cranston and former pro snowboarder Jason Onley were among the architects of the program, while attorney Dev Menon was a “significant participant” who trained them to lie, the judge previously said. Onley and Menon are due to be sentenced to prison sentence hearings in June.
Cranston’s sister, 30-year-old Lauren Cranston, was sentenced last week to at least five years in prison for her role in the program, including a personal win of $181,000.
Patrick Willmott, who at times considered himself the “chief financial officer” and pocketed $498,000, was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison and six years without parole.
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