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US Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that nine individuals have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their involvement in a conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Alphonso Rico Valdez, a/k/a "Rico," age 21; Charlie Frank Adams, age 21; Raunta Stanislaus Ellison, age 23; Jeremy Jamar Blount, age 24; Melissa Dinataly, age 22; Terry Daron Liggins, age 27; Marquis Butler, age 22; and Christopher Jamel Lundy, age 20, were indicted by a federal grand jury on November 6, 2012, for conspiracy to defraud the United States and aggravated identity theft. Christopher Duane Frierson, age 21, was indicted only on the conspiracy charge. @
The defendants are alleged to have been 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 total approximately $1.1 million, and the IRS paid fraudulent claims of approximately $500,000 before the fraud came to light.
In a coordinated effort by the IRS and the United States Marshal's Service, five of these individuals were arrested yesterday in the Tampa, Florida, area, and two were arrested yesterday in South Dakota. Terry Daron Liggins and Christopher Jamel Lundy appeared before US Magistrate Judge John E. Simko in Sioux Falls yesterday and pled not guilty to the indictment. The two were released pending trial.
Alphonso Rico Valdez, Jeremy Jamar Blount, Melissa Dinataly, Charlie Frank Adams, and Christopher Duane Frierson appeared before a federal magistrate judge in the Middle District of Florida yesterday. They were released and ordered to appear in South Dakota federal court in Sioux Falls on December 10, 2012, at 2:00 p.m.@
Two individuals named in the indictment have not been arrested.
The maximum penalty upon conviction for the conspiracy charge is 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, plus restitution. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory sentence of 2 years in prison consecutive to any sentence received on the underlying offense. The charges are merely accusations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. @
The investigation is being conducted by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations. The Vermillion Police Department and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation are also assisting in the investigation. Assistant US Attorney John E. Haak is prosecuting the case.