Doc Antle, Owner of Myrtle Beach Safari, Pleads Guilty to Federal Wildlife Trafficking and Money Laundering Charges
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A Walterboro couple, David Hiers, 45, and his wife Loretta Hiers 33, has been sentenced to three years and two years in federal prison, respectively, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
Evidence presented to the Court showed that in May 2019, an individual named A.D. needed money to hire a lawyer for a jailed relative. The jailed relative advised A.D. to ask David Hiers for financial help. David Hiers told A.D. he would help and asked A.D. to provide his or her personal identifying information, including a picture of A.D.’s driver’s license and Social Security Account number. David Hiers also told A.D. that his or her credit would go bad. David Hiers advised A.D. that he would be able to repair A.D.’s credit in about six months because he had contacts to fix credit. David Hiers also said that he had done this many times with many people and for A.D. not to worry about it. Loretta Hiers informed A.D. that everything was going to be fine, and that A.D. was not going to be in trouble.
The Hiers proceeded to use A.D.’s personal identifying information (PII) to execute a fraudulent loan scheme whereby they obtained money from various federally insured banks and credit unions and other lending corporations by submitting fraudulent automobile, motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle, and farming equipment loan applications in the name of A.D., and they obtained approximately $393,029.06 in fraudulent loan proceeds.
To execute the fraud scheme, the Hiers utilized a used automobile dealership, namely Lowcountry Used Cars, LLC, located in Round O, S.C., that purported to be the seller of vehicles that were to be purchased with the fraudulent loans. The Hiers also set up bank accounts in the name of the dealership. The multiple false loan applications included fraudulent information about the details of the transactions, A.D.’s financial information, the purpose of the loans, and the collateral backing certain loans. The loans included A.D.’s PII even though A.D. was not actually purchasing vehicles or equipment, as well as false information concerning “ghost” vehicles that were purportedly going to be purchased with the loan proceeds, and fraudulent documents supporting the “ghost” automobile loans, including fictitious purchase orders. The Hiers used vehicle identification numbers (VIN) they obtained from the internet for the “ghost” automobile loans.
The Hiers deposited checks from the lenders, which were written to Lowcountry Used Cars, LLC and/or to A.D., into banks in the name of the dealership and into bank accounts that were otherwise under the control of the Hiers or A.D. The Hiers gave some of the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds to A.D., while keeping a portion of the fraudulent loan proceeds for themselves.
Around July 2019, A.D. confronted David Hiers and told him to stop doing what he was doing concerning A.D.’s credit. David Hiers then ended all contact with A.D.. Nevertheless, the Hiers continued to obtain fraudulent loans for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and farming equipment from lenders in the name of A.D., without A.D.’s knowledge. On many occasions, Loretta Hiers posed as A.D. and used A.D.’s PII, including a forged driver’s license of A.D. Ultimately, the fraudulently obtained loans defaulted, causing losses to the lenders. The Hiers obtained approximately $393,029.06 in fraudulent loan proceeds via the scheme. The FBI seized and liquidated assets that were applied to the restitution in the case. A restitution amount of $252,369.31 remains outstanding.
United States District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks sentenced David Hiers to 36 months imprisonment, to be followed by a five-year term of court-ordered supervision. Judge Hendricks sentenced Loretta Hiers to 24 months imprisonment, to be followed by a five-year term of court-ordered supervision. Judge Hendricks also ordered that David Hiers and Loretta Hiers each pay $252,369.31 in restitution, jointly and severally. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Colleton County Sheriff’s Office assisted in executing search warrants and arrest warrants in this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean H. Secor is prosecuting the case.
Veronica Hill, Public Affairs Specialist, email@example.com, (803) 929-3000