'Don Euro' was jailed for extortion but cleared of money laundering
"Don Euro", as he was known to parishioners who were weary of his continuous demands for donations, a priest by profession in Italy, has been jailed for extorting money from an ex-bishop.
Defrocked parish priest Fr Luca Morini deposited €700,000 in a bank account, and another €150,000 was invested in diamonds, according to investigators.
Morini was found not guilty of drug trafficking and money laundering charges. He was also cleared of extortion charges against a nun.
Details of Luca Morini's double life were revealed in court in Massa Carrara, northern Italy. The former cleric – who has since been defrocked by the Vatican – was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for his crimes on Wednesday.
Prosecutors described how parish funds were used to fund "Don Euro's" lavish spending on sex workers, swingers' parties, diamonds, and lavish vacations.
Locals, who had thought of the priest as a good-natured and religious man, were taken aback by the court case.
Morini, who was born in the Tuscan town of Pontasserchio, lavished money on his lovers, mainly young men who would accompany him to swinging swingers clubs.
According to a local newspaper, the former priest was also found guilty of impersonation after posing as a magistrate and hiring male sex workers.
The cleric's crimes were discovered after a sex worker complained to police about his spending in 2015, claiming that he had pretended to be a magistrate.
The informant was to become one of four men who filed a false identity claim against Morini and were awarded €14,000 in damages by the court.
The priest was introduced to one of the men in a gay sex club in Naples, according to one of the men.
"He was with a young man who we had sex with. He told me he was a magistrate, he promised he would help me start a career as a lawyer since I have a law degree," said the man, who testified behind a white sheet to protect his identity.
"He said he would introduce me to the jet set and make me rich," said the man, who claimed Morini had sniffed drugs from a club table.
Despite prosecutors' requests for an eight-and-a-half-year sentence, Morini was given a reduced sentence after his lawyers claimed he had been suffering from mental illness.
By fLEXI tEAM