Crime & Courts

Woman who police say faked pregnancy with quints could be deported

HILTON HEAD -- The Lady's Island woman investigators say faked a quintuple pregnancy to trick people out of more than $1,000 in cash and gifts was taken into federal custody Monday morning and probably 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 could end in her deportation 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 stories 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 were jailed at the Beaufort County Detention Center on $25,000 bonds.

Neither Cantu nor Solis were able to post bond because of a federal hold placed on them by ICE agents performing their own investigation.

Cantu initially 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 so that he could be tried as a juvenile.

Attorney Lee Bowers told Judge Carmen Mullen during a court date Aug. 28 that Solis' birth certificate proves Solis, who told authorities he was 24 at the time of his arrest, actually was 16 when he was arrested.

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 still is pending, according to court records.

Solis also could be placed in federal custody once his Beaufort County charges are adjudicated, according to the jail log.

-- The (Hilton Head) Island Packet