Feds nail dirty Costa Mesa income tax preparer
Feds nail dirty Costa Mesa income tax preparer

Costa Mesa's "Sal the 1040 Gal" Gets Nailed For Skimming Tax Refunds From Clients

You have to give Sally Louise Crystal big points for audacity.

While on criminal probation for stealing more than $6,800 from a roommate, Crystal (AKA Sally Hernandez or, her professional nickname, "Sal the 1040 Gal") operated a brazen income tax preparation scam in Costa Mesa that ripped off her clients and the U.S. Government.

Following a plea bargain that saw her admit guilt on two charges in exchange for dismissal of seven other federal grand jury counts, Crystal has learned that cheating sometimes has ugly consequences.

She's now officially a federal convict.

Crystal--who hoped to score brownie points by noting she is the mother of two boys and allegedly gave up drinking alcohol years ago--sought probation or home confinement as punishment. Federal prosecutors, unamused that she ran her Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scheme while on probation for the other theft, wanted her to serve a 17-month prison sentence.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford sided more with the government. He sentenced her to serve 10 months in prison. She must also pay restitution of more than $28,000.

Crystal's scam included secretly skimming portions--often more than $2,000--from tax refunds due to her clients, according to U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) records. IRS agents also believe she fabricated deductions, although those counts were dismissed in the plea bargain. It's not clear from the case file if her clients will be or have been audited. An assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force prosecuted her.

Some of Sal the 1040 Gal's clients included OC Weekly staffers, but not me.

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