Former Deputy Sentenced in Multiple Fraud Schemes
Contact Person: T. DeWayne Pearson (803) 929-3000
Columbia, SC - United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated that former Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy Maribel Crespo, age 40, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced to 12 months and one day imprisonment for her role in multiple fraud schemes, including trafficking in counterfeit goods, impersonating a federal agent and tax fraud. According to information presented during her guilty plea, Crespo sold counterfeit luxury goods including fake Michael Kors handbags and Rolex watches over the internet. Additionally, Crespo posed as an officer of the Department of Homeland Security to defraud undocumented aliens by charging them thousands of dollars for counterfeit immigration paperwork. Crespo also entered a guilty plea for preparing fraudulent tax returns for other former Richland County Sheriff’s Deputies by adding false and fictitious information to the returns. Crespo would attach children’s information to the returns so that she could claim them as false dependents in an effort to artificially inflate the amount of the tax returns. The children used were typically citizen children of non-citizen Hispanics in the Columbia area. Crespo would forward a part the tax return to the parents of the dependent, some to herself and the remainder to the tax filer. Based on IRS calculations, Crespo caused over $100,000 in loss to the Treasury based on the fraudulent returns.
Internal Revenue Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman III said, “IRS, Criminal Investigation takes seriously any attempts to steal taxpayer money through false claims for refunds; and certainly when those false claims are made by someone sworn to uphold the law.” Special Agent in Charge of HSI Atlanta Nick S. Annan said “Criminal counterfeiters are economic parasites who harm legitimate businesses that pay taxes, create jobs and support our national economy. Anyone who thinks counterfeiting is a victimless crime should realize the proceeds of black-market sales are often funneled to support criminal organizations. Further, defrauding the government harms law-abiding citizens everywhere who pay their fair share and as such these cases will continue to be a major investigative priority for ICE Homeland Security Investigations.” The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security - Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney T. DeWayne Pearson of the Columbia office.