PHILADELPHIA – Four social workers were convicted Wednesday of fraud for submitting phony paperwork for visits they never made to a disabled teenage girl who weighed only 42 pounds and was covered in maggot-infested sores when she was found dead in her home.
A federal jury in Philadelphia convicted the employees of now-defunct MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc. of defrauding the city of millions of dollars by not visiting the family of Danieal Kelly, 14, and other needy households, then creating paperwork that claimed they did.
Kelly, who had cerebral palsy, weighed less than half her expected weight when she was found dead in 2006, an expert witness for the prosecution testified.
Company co-founders Mickal Kamuvaka, 60, and Solomon Manamela, 52, and former caseworkers Julius Juma Murray, 52, and Miriam Coulebaly, 41, were all convicted of conspiracy, lying to federal agents and multiple counts of health care fraud and wire fraud.
"Danieal Kelly paid the ultimate price for these defendants' fraud, and we hope that this is some measure of justice for her and the other children who were the victims, really, of this fraud," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bea Witzleben said.
Kamuvaka still faces trial on a state charge of involuntary manslaughter in Kelly's death. Murray, the caseworker assigned to the family, also faces an involuntary manslaughter trial and is being held pending trial this month on federal immigration charges.
Defense attorneys for Kamuvaka and Manamela argued that they were victims of "renegade" employees. Kamuvaka's attorney, William Cannon, said his client was "very disappointed" by the verdict. Manamela's attorney, Paul J. Hetznecker, acknowledged "significant" mismanagement but said his client was dedicated to social work.
Manamela, whose attorney argued that it was possible for his client to have made the required visits to Kelly's home but still to have missed evidence of her condition, declined to comment. Coulibaly, who had no direct role in the Kelly case, also declined to comment on the verdict.
Kelly's mother, Andrea, is serving 20 to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to third-degree murder.
The four are scheduled for sentencing in June. Prosecutors said sentencing guidelines indicate Kamuvaka could be sentenced to about nine to 11 years or more in prison, while Manamela could get a term of eight to 10 years. Coulibaly could face about six or seven years and Murray four or five years in prison, prosecutors said.