SAN DIEGO – On September 12, 2019, Almamy Baba Ly, of La Mesa, pleaded guilty in federal court to identity theft charges, admitting that he misused the identity of a deceased American citizen for 31 years in order to obtain identification documents, as well as thousands of dollars in federal, state and local government benefits.
Ly acknowledged that in 1988 he assumed the identity of Lyle Lindsey, a native San Diegan and son of a military veteran, who died in a tragic automobile accident as a toddler in 1957. Ly admitted that he was born in Senegal, that he was without legal status to reside in the United States, and that he used an altered copy of the deceased toddler’s birth certificate to apply first for a Social Security number and then for a California Identification Card and Driver License. Over the next 31 years, Ly was convicted of numerous crimes, including drug sales and robbery, under Lyle Lindsey’s identity.
Ly also pleaded guilty to receiving stolen public money, admitting that from 2012 until 2019, he used Lindsey’s identity to apply for and receive more than $80,000 in federal student loans and Pell Grants. In his plea agreement, Ly also admitted to applying for CalFresh / Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in 2017 as Lindsey, and to thereafter receiving thousands of dollars in benefits that he was not legally entitled to receive.
“This despicable lawbreaker is why some have so little faith in government programs designed to assist those in need. It is unfortunate that fraud is present in these programs, but fortunately we have investigators, including California DMV investigators who can sift through data and information and track down the abusers and fraudulent individuals,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.
In July 2019, United States Border Patrol agents simultaneously served a search warrant and arrested Ly at his residence in La Mesa. During the search, agents seized a recently issued Senegalese national identification card with Ly’s true name and date of birth. The arrest and search warrant were the culmination of a lengthy investigation by the United States Border Patrol, with the assistance of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of State, and the United States Embassy and Homeland Security Investigations in Dakar, Senegal.
“This was an especially sophisticated and devious fraud that victimized U.S. taxpayers for decades and forced a family to revisit a traumatic loss,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “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. Identity thieves target hundreds of thousands of deceased Americans every year, but I’m proud to say that because of the efforts of federal agents and prosecutor Jeffrey Hill, one of the most egregious and enduring violators has been stopped.”
As a part of his plea agreement, Ly agreed to make full restitution to the United States Department of Education and to the County of San Diego for the $88,551 in government benefits that he fraudulently obtained by his crimes. Ly faces up to 55 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million at his sentencing before U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia on December 2, 2019.