DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) – Over a dozen Internal Revenue Service agents conducted search and seizure warrants at two businesses in Darlington, according to an official with the IRS, Eric Veter. He said the U.S Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West had probable cause of violations of tax crimes at both places.
From around 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tuesday, agents were at Premier & Partners and Hollywood Fashion Handbags Outlet, which has a banner on the front calling it "Loyalty Yes Tax Services." IRS Criminal Investigators wheeled multiple boxes and filing cabinets out of Premier & Partners. The owner Janice Murray would not speak to WMBF News when she returned to the business after the IRS left.
WMBF News has copies of Loyalty Yes Tax Services' warrants. It has been learned that the Criminal Investigation Division discovered and seized a laptop, copies of refund checks, password sheet, and customer records. The search and seizure warrants said the IRS is commanded by U.S Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West to conduct the warrant before April 25 2017.
The owner of Loyalty Tax Services, Gerghiny Obas, was not at his business the time of the warrant.
"He had two or three offices, one in Lake City and Kingstree, so some clients here don't want to go that far so I let him use a part of my place for his clients and that's all I know." said Fritz Maurselle, Obas' cousin, who runs Hollywood Fashions Handbags Outlet. "Some clients that he has from here don't want to go all the way to Lake City, so he put a desk here and took care of his business and that's it."
Maurselle said Obas lives in Florida and he filed tax returns for six clients before February of this year and closed down his other two locations in Kingstree and Lake City.
According to Maurselle, the IRS agents were friendly and he did not have a problem with them conducting the warrant.
"They did their job and did what they had to do. I'm OK and pleased with them, as long as they don't touch my stuff. They got what they want and that's it," Maurselle said.
Chuck Early is the neighboring business with Premier & Partners. He said he has been with Palmetto Breathing Solutions in the Darlington Square the last 15 years and is shocked to have seen all of the commotion before he came to work.
"It's a small town and to have this many undercover officers and vehicles out front was just really strange," he said. "You don't normally see that."
Early added he thought the orange cones and undercover vehicles all morning were for something completely different. He said the employees of Premier & Partners have been friendly and he is concerned about the future of both businesses.