A former San Diego Sheriff’s Department employee was in court Thursday on charges of tax fraud.
Francisco Terriquez, 43, of Chula Vista pleaded guilty to tax evasion and making a false statement to a federal officer.
He admitted that he ran an illegal business selling millions of dollars in dietary supplements and failed to declare any of the proceeds as income on his federal tax return.
“As a member of a law enforcement agency for decades, this defendant knew better,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “He acted as if the rules did not apply to him, and now he is finding out otherwise.”
Terriquez, a 19-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, spent tens of thousands of dollars shipping the dietary supplements to stores and customers throughout the United States.
He operated his business out of several storage units, which he rented under a fake name.
After obtaining a search warrant, federal agents searched Terriquez’s storage units and discovered hundreds of vials of dietary supplements containing the controlled substance sibutramine, an obesity drug that was withdrawn from the U.S. market in October 2010 due to studies that showed an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Terriquez never told his customers the serious risks of the supplements.
From 2011-2014, he failed to report over a half million dollars in income he received from his illegal business.
Terriquez agreed to pay restitution to the IRS for the full amount of taxes owed as part of his plea.
“As a former employee of a law enforcement agency, Mr. Terriquez is held to a higher standard and knew that he was operating an illegal business,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum. “Today's plea will hold Mr. Terriquez accountable for his unlawful conduct and serve as a reminder that when purchasing dietary supplements through the internet, ask questions and conduct your own due diligence before purchasing from unknown individuals and/or companies.”
Terriquez is scheduled to be sentenced in July.