If these cretins weren’t so greedy they’d have said it was triplets to buy more time and less scrutiny. These creeps preyed on one of the more neighborly parts of America. In fact, it was the concern of the community for the pre-natal care of the quints that lead to the downfall of the greedy idiots.Â
On December 28th the Beaufort Gazette published a story about a cash strappedÂ illegal immigrant couple expecting quintuplets. Donations poured in. Other sources say perhaps as much as $5,000 in cash and goods were donated, but suckers, err contributors are slow in stepping forward to admit they were duped, err, donated, so an accurate final accounting is unlikely.
Read the Beaufort Gazette’s sheepish apology here, while the link lasts.Â It concludes “I hate that we would need to be so skeptical as to assume that people automatically are lying, but this story has shaken my faith in the innate honesty of the human race. Again, we apologize to our readers for being a part of it.” Dang-there goes one of the last newspapermen with faith in humanity!Â
Ultrasound reveals quintuplet ‘mom’ not pregnant
Couple jailed on $25,000 bonds
Jan 30, 2008 12:00 AM | By JEREMY HSIEH | www.beaufortgazette.com
A Lady’s Island woman who claimed to be pregnant with quintuplets and solicited donations from the community is not pregnant, a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office investigator said Tuesday.
During bond hearings Tuesday morning at the Beaufort County Detention Center, Master Sgt. Jeff Purdy said the supposed mother-to-be, Nancy Cantu, 37, agreed Friday to be taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for an ultrasound, which revealed she was not pregnant.
Purdy said the Sheriff’s Office had health and welfare concerns about the mother and contacted her.
“We were concerned for her safety,” Purdy said.
Purdy arrested Cantu and her boyfriend, Juan Salvador Solis, 22, both of 45 Youmans Drive, Monday night and charged them with obtaining goods under false pretenses.
After the hearings, Sheriff P.J. Tanner explained how his deputies convinced Cantu to consent to the ultrasound.
With officers on Friday afternoon “sitting in their living room, they knew the scam was about to end. The question then becomes to aid law enforcement, or not? When that question is posed and their scam is basically over” it makes sense to cooperate, Tanner said. “There was going to be an ultrasound one way, or we’d get a court order. … We’re glad that she participated willingly.”
If convicted, they face up to five years in prison and fines “at the discretion of the court,” according to a Sheriff’s Office press release.
Purdy told the court the investigation is ongoing but that he believes the couple received at least $1,000 in goods and money. The Sheriff’s Office is in contact with two potential victims, Purdy said, and said at least five others have come forward.
Cantu told police she was pregnant at one point but miscarried in October after a traffic accident, Purdy said. The accident is under investigation, he added.
Cantu’s pregnancy statement to police conflicted with what Solis volunteered during his bond hearing. Through a translator, Solis, who speaks Spanish, said “She was pregnant, but she had an abortion. But I didn’t know she had an abortion.”
The statement was irrelevant to the bond hearing, Magistrate Mark Fitzgibbons said.
Before her arrest, Cantu told people she was initially pregnant with septuplets, but two of the fetuses did not survive after she had fallen.
Law enforcement’s involvement was triggered by suspicions and complaints from the community, medical professionals and emergency management officials, Purdy said.
Fitzgibbons set bond for Cantu and Solis at $25,000 each after Hunter Swanson, an assistant solicitor for the 14th Judicial Circuit, presented them as a flight risk, given their connections to Mexico — Cantu said she was raised in Mexico and Solis said he is a native of Mexico — and few local ties with no jobs or property.
Their next court date is Feb. 22. Fitzgibbons said he would revisit the bond amounts after the Sheriff’s Office gathers information on their criminal histories. Both told the judge they had never been arrested.
During the hearings, Cantu appeared solemn, sitting very still with her hands in her lap most of the time and head low. She spoke softly. Solis, who appeared in the court separately, appeared nervous, his feet bouncing almost constantly. Neither one had an attorney, though the judge explained their right to one for future court proceedings.
The potential victims include a Harbor Island couple and their guests who threw a baby shower for Cantu and Solis on Jan. 15. Others — though it’s unclear how many — mailed donations and dropped off gifts after the couple received media attention.
Beaufort High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society raised $500 for the babies this month, said Melissa Lewin, a teacher and the group’s adviser. Four students visited the couple at their mobile home Thursday with Beaufort County Councilman D. Paul Sommerville, who translated.
The students made a list of items to purchase on their behalf. Lewin said the student group was poised to buy five car seats.
“Luckily, we hadn’t gotten that far yet” and no money changed hands, she said.
Lewin said she was “totally shocked” by news of the arrests and fakepregnancy.
“I had no idea. We just thought it was totally legitimate,” she said. “Our hearts went out to them. Our kids were all saying, ‘It’s not the babies’ fault they’re in that situation.’”
Besides receiving money and goods, Cantu also was responsible for triggering a “major disruption in the medical community” on at least one occasion after a 911 call, a local doctor said.
On Jan. 6, Cantu called 911 because of abdominal pain, according to Beaufort County EMS records. The incident led Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s emergency room to prep for delivery and the complications associated with quintuplets, said Dr. Chip Floyd of Beaufort Pediatrics.
“That’s like someone calling with a bomb scare,” Floyd said.
Floyd, and other doctors and nurses unaffiliated with the hospital were called in, as they would for any “overwhelming medical need,” he said.
EMS records show Cantu also made 911 calls on Dec. 11, Dec. 31 andJan. 2 for abdominal pain in two instances and a sore throat in the other. In all four cases, she refused to be taken to the hospital.
Area doctors said the chances of naturally conceiving quintuplets or septuplets are infinitesimal. Floyd said the chance of having quintuplets naturally is one in 54 million and septuplets is one in 2 billion. Dr. John Fontana of Beaufort OB-Gyn said, “It just doesn’t happen” without fertility treatments.
The federal agency that enforces immigration law has been notified of the couple’s arrest and will attempt to confirm the couple’s identity and immigration status, according to the Sheriff’s Office press release. If U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement determines either Cantu or Solis is an illegal immigrant, federal agents could put them on a path to deportation.