FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — Twelve people from seven different construction companies were sentenced for tax felonies and hiring undocumented immigrants in the largest IRS case in the Myrtle Beach area, according to the Department of Justice.

The following people were sentenced, according to the Department of Justice:

  • Daniel A. Lavoie, 49, of Conway (Daniel Lavoie Construction Services)
    • Five years’ probation, 18 months home confinement with location monitoring and $293,402.50 in restitution
  • Enrique R. Reyes, 48, of Conway (Daniel Lavoie Construction Services)
    • Five years’ probation, 18 months home confinement with location monitoring and $293,402.50 in restitution
  • Walter A. Duran, 45, of Myrtle Beach (Duran Masonry)
    • Five years’ probation, 21 months home confinement with location monitoring and $976,076.08 in restitution
  • Lisa Caulley Sellers, 57, of Myrtle Beach (Duran Masonry)
    • Five years’ probation, eight months home confinement with location monitoring and $488,038.04 in restitution
  • Ming Xue Nan, 52, of Myrtle Beach (Extreme Siding)
    • Five years’ probation, 14 months home confinement with location monitoring and $173,712.43 in restitution
  • Katherine L. Welker, 39, of Myrtle Beach (Extreme Siding)
    • Five years’ probation, eight months home confinement with location monitoring and $173,712.43 in restitution
  • Marylany Hardman Levino, 36, of Myrtle Beach (Master Homes Calabash)
    • Five years’ probation, 18 months home confinement with location monitoring and $209,847.07 in restitution
  • Josafa P. Neto, 43, of Myrtle Beach (Master Homes Calabash)
    • Five years’ probation and $209,847.07 in restitution
  • Saul Prieto, 56, of Myrtle Beach (Metro Concrete Finishers)
    • Five years’ probation, nine months home confinement with location monitoring and $74,868.50 in restitution
  • Martha E. Zarate, a/k/a Martha E. Prieto, 54, of Myrtle Beach (Metro Concrete Finishers)
    • Five years’ probation, nine months home confinement with location monitoring and $74,868.50 in restitution
  • Marcos Caetano De Almeida, 45, of Myrtle Beach (Master Homes Design Center)
    • Five years’ probation, 21 months home confinement with location monitoring and $298,816.52 in restitution
  • Johanna A. Carpio, 38, of Myrtle Beach (Paint by Numbers)
    • Five years’ probation, 14 months home confinement with location monitoring and $131,449.69 in restitution

All 12 were given probation because they admitted guilt early, agreed to assist in the investigation and agreed to pay back the money owed, according to the Department of Justice.

“These Defendants stole money from South Carolina taxpayers, they stole opportunities from those in the construction industry who did the right thing, and they stole safety from the workers who labored on jobsites without insurance,” U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis said in a statement.

“The Defendants in this case, none of whom had criminal records before this investigation, are all now convicted felons,” Ellis’ statement reads. “Several face potential deportation, several have lost their homes and face financial ruin, and many will never be able to return to the work they spent their lives pursuing. This case should be a message to businesses and individuals who try to get ahead by breaking the law: it is not worth it because we are watching you and we will prosecute you.”

In late 2018, the IRS and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) began investigating illegal check cashing among construction companies in the Myrtle Beach area and along the South Carolina coast.

The investigation found that several construction companies would use the check cashers to hire undocumented citizens and avoid paying employment taxes on their workers, according to the release.

Members of a construction company would meet with an unlicensed check casher in parking lots of retail stores or coffee shops, according to the attorney’s office. The company would give the check casher a check made out to a created company and in turn the check casher would give the company a bag of money that would be used to pay the employees.

The check cashers would also give false certificates of insurance stating their workers were covered under worker’s compensation insurance, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Officials estimate that at least $15 million in checks were cashed by the 12 individuals, which resulted in millions of dollars of losses.

It’s estimated that at least tens of millions of tax dollars have been lost along the South Carolina coast due to similar schemes.

The case was investigated by the IRS and Homeland Security Investigators with help from the Myrtle Beach Police Department.