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.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.