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Two Sentenced In Tax Fraud Scheme

July 21, 2014, 6:00 PM by Kathleen Serie

Two Sentenced In Tax Fraud Scheme

Two people involved in a 2012 tax fraud scheme were sentenced Monday in federal court. In all, authorities say 11 people were involved in the crime. Six used to play football at the University of South Dakota.    

25-year-old Raunta Ellison received a sentence of five years in prison, and 23-year-old Dametrius Turner is sentenced to three and a half years for their roles in the crime.

Authorities say they are tied to an identity theft scheme that used names, birth dates and Social Security numbers to file fake tax returns and get refunds.

A Vermillion Police officer cracked the case in April of 2012 when he was investigating a suspicious person at a local ATM. Authorities say Alphonso 'Rico' Valdez was trying to withdraw $900 from a preloaded debit card.

The investigation led to an USD dorm room, where detectives say they found evidence that several men collected more than $7,000 after filing a fake return. That discovery launched an investigation that lasted more than six months.

Two others, Charlie Adams and Melissa Dinataly, have already been sentenced for their roles.

Trials are set to begin for former USD football players Jeremy Blount, Terry Liggins, Christopher Frierson, Marquis Butler and Christopher Lundy on August 12.

Alphonso 'Rico' Valdez and Nathan Singletary III also go to trial in August.

The total of requested refunds in the case totaled about $1 million, with more than $420,000 owed to the IRS.

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