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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 12, 2015

Former USD Athletes Sentenced In IRS Fraud Case

United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that two former University of South Dakota football players convicted of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Aggravated Identity Theft were sentenced on January 12, 2015, by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier.

Alphonso Rico Valdez, age 23, of Nashville, Tennessee, was sentenced to 37 months in prison on the conspiracy charge, and 24 months on the ID theft charge, to be served consecutively.  Upon release from prison he will be on supervised release for 3 years.  Valdez was also ordered to make restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the amount of $421,116, and to two ID theft victims in the amount of $866.83.

Terry Daron Liggins, age 29, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was sentenced to 15 months in prison on the conspiracy charge, and 24 months on the ID theft charge, to be served consecutively.  Upon release from prison he will be on supervised release for 3 years.  Liggins was also ordered to make restitution to the IRS in the amount of $339,535, and to two ID theft victims in the amount of $866.83.

Valdez, Liggins, and 9 others were indicted on the above charges by a federal grand jury on May 8, 2013.  Valdez and Liggins pled guilty on October 16, 2014.

Valdez and Liggins were involved in a scheme to defraud the United States by using personal identifying information, including names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth, of other individuals to file bogus income tax returns showing tax refunds due.  The requested refunds totaled approximately $1 million, and the IRS paid fraudulent claims of over $400,000 before the fraud came to light.

During his involvement in the scheme, Valdez had co-conspirators obtain identities, including names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth.   Valdez provided the stolen identities to other co-conspirators to be used to file fraudulent income tax returns with the IRS.  Valdez also had co-conspirators provide him with addresses to use on the fraudulent income tax returns and, in turn, provided those addresses to other co-conspirators so that refund checks could be received in the mail.  Valdez received fraudulent income tax refunds in the mail at the addresses he obtained/provided, and deposited the funds into his own bank accounts and those of his co-conspirators.

During Liggins’ involvement in the scheme, he sent a text message to a co-conspirator containing stolen identities, including names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth, to be used to file fraudulent income tax returns with the IRS.  He also provided a co-conspirator with addresses knowing that the addresses would be used in the scheme to receive fraudulent tax refunds in the mail.

This case was investigated by the Vermillion Police Department, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Haak prosecuted the case.

Both men were ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service by noon on February 16, 2015.


Component(s): 
Updated June 22, 2015