A Senegalese national living in Southern California pleaded guilty Thursday to impersonating a dead American citizen for 31 years to net thousands of dollars in federal, state and local government benefits, according to federal prosecutors.
Almamy Baba Ly, who was living in La Mesa, admitted in San Diego federal court to identity theft charges, acknowledging that he misused the identity of Lyle Lindsey, who died in a car accident as a toddler in 1957, to obtain identification documents.
As part of his plea, Ly admitted that he was born in Senegal and did not have legal status to live in the U.S.
Federal prosecutors said Ly, who was arrested in July, somehow obtained an altered copy of Lindsey’s birth certificate and used it to apply for a Social Security number, California identification card and driver’s license.
Ly also said he used Lindsey’s identity to apply for and receive more than $80,000 in federal student loans and Pell grants from 2012 until 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. In his plea agreement, Ly also admitted to applying for nutrition assistance programs, getting thousands of dollars in benefits that he was not legally entitled to receive.
Also, Ly was convicted of several crimes, including robbery and selling drugs, under Lindsey’s identity, prosecutors said.
“This was an especially sophisticated and devious fraud that victimized U.S. taxpayers for decades and forced a family to revisit a traumatic loss,” U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said. “Finding out that someone is committing crimes in the name of a child who was lost many years ago brings unacceptable anxiety to his survivors.”
Ly’s attorney, Jeremy Delicino, did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Prosecutors said as a part of his plea agreement, Ly agreed to make full restitution to the U.S. Department of Education and to the County of San Diego for the more than $88,000 in benefits that he fraudulently received.
He faces up to 55 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million when he is sentenced in December.