Woman who claimed quints likely faces deportation

The Lady’s Island woman investigators say faked a quintuple pregnancy to bilk people out of more than $1,000 in cash and gifts was taken into federal custody this morning and likely faces deportation.

Nancy Cantu, whose real name is Erika Nieves-Abrigo, pleaded guilty Oct. 23 to one count of obtaining goods under false pretenses and was released on time served into the custody of federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, according to Beaufort County court records.

“She had a hold on her from immigration, so once her charges in Beaufort County were satisfied, we called them and they came down and picked her up,” said Phil Foot, director of the Beaufort County Detention Center.

Foot said Cantu was taken to an ICE facility in Charleston, where she will be held for the remainder of her immigration proceedings, which are likely to end in deportation back to Mexico.

Cantu and Juan Salvador Solis, who claimed to have fathered the children, said they were pregnant with quintuplets in December and received gifts and donations as their story spread, in part with a story about the couple in The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet.

An ultrasound taken by Cantu in January at the behest of Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office investigators revealed the pregnancy to be a hoax. Cantu and Solis were arrested for obtaining goods under false pretenses and had been jailed at the Beaufort County Detention Center on $25,000 bonds since their arrests. The couple had been unable to post bond because of a federal hold placed on them by ICE agents performing their own investigation.

Cantu originally claimed to be from San Antonio, but the Beaufort County jail log identified the 37-year-old woman as a Mexican national.

Defense attorneys for Solis still are trying to authenticate a Mexican birth certificate they showed a Beaufort County judge in August in the hopes of getting his trial moved from general sessions court to family court.

Attorney Lee Bowers told Judge Carmen Mullen during a court date Aug. 28 that Solis’ birth certificate proves that Solis, who told authorities he was 24 at the time of his arrest, actually was 16 at the time of his arrest, which would allow him to be tried as a juvenile.

Mullen told Bowers he would need to get the birth certificate authenticated by the federal government or a U.S. embassy before she would consider moving the trial to family court. The motion to move the proceedings to family court is still pending, according to court records.

Solis likely will be placed in federal custody as well, once his Beaufort County charges are adjudicated, according to the jail log.