TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WHNT) - What started as a bank robbery investigation in 2009 ballooned into uncovering a tax return scheme by the alleged robbery suspect while he was in jail.
The hard work and determination that it took to investigate the crimes has landed a Colbert County deputy a prestigious federal award.
When Captain Tim Vanderford responded to a bank robbery at First Southern Bank in Ford City in December of 2009, he probably never pictured how the investigation would end up.
Vanderford said after the suspect, Ricky Denton was in custody a tax return scheme began to unravel against Denton.
“It wasn’t just given to us. We had to keep going and digging, and evaluating every little piece that we got on a daily basis,” stated Vanderford.
For uncovering the tax return scheme that Denton eventually pleaded guilty to in federal court, captain Vanderford on Monday received the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Investigative Award.
Vanderford said the Denton investigation was a team effort that also involved the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.
“We just didn’t give up. We just kept on monitoring and building our case. We wanted it to be the strongest it could be, and this is just a part that fell into it,” explained Vanderford. “And instead of sitting it aside, we contacted other agencies and kept it going.”
Captain Vanderford is the first officer to receive this award in the state of Alabama in 14 years.
Ricky Denton is serving a six year sentence in federal prison for tax fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
Investigators said Denton took social security numbers and birth dates from fellow prison inmates, and used them to file false tax returns to the tune of almost 150-thousand dollars.
WHAT STARTED AS A BANK ROBBERY INVESTIGATION IN 2009 BALLOONED INTO UNCOVERING A TAX RETURN SCHEME BY THE ALLEGED ROBBERY SUSPECT WHILE HE WAS IN JAIL.