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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ivory Coast Diplomat Convicted of Conspiracy and Fraud

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Koissy Thomas Kemmeth, 52, of New York, New York, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making a false, fictitious and fraudulent claim against the United States. 

According to court documents, Kemmeth was a native and citizen of the Ivory Coast who had worked as a driver for the Ivory Coast Mission to the United States. From 2010 through February 2015, Kemmeth worked with another national of the Ivory Coast, Kouame Tanoh, to defraud others of money and property. As part of the conspiracy, Kemmeth created false and fraudulent employment verification letters for Tanoh, and his aliases, on the official letterhead of the Ivory Coast Mission to the United Nations and claimed to have been issued in line with the official authority of the Mission. These letters falsely represented that Tanoh, or one of his aliases, was employed by the Mission.  At least one of these letters alleged to have been from another diplomat who had previously served at the Mission, but had returned to the Ivory Coast by the date of the letter.

During that same time period, Kemmeth assisted Tanoh with a scheme that involved the preparation and electronic filing of false and fictitious federal and state income tax returns that requested fraudulent refunds.  Some of these false claims were filed on behalf of Kemmeth, who knew he was not supposed to be filing any federal or state tax returns because he was in the United States as a foreign diplomat.  Kemmeth assisted with the scheme by providing his bank account information to Tanoh so that fraudulent refunds could be deposited into Kemmeth’s account.  Tanoh also used the mailing address for the Ivory Coast Mission to the United States on some of the income tax returns.  Kemmeth would then collect any mail sent to the Mission for these returns. 

Kemmeth was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 26. Kemmeth faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on December 2. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Inspector in Charge Terrence P. McKeown, US Postal Inspection Service, Washington Division.; Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Washington; Michael McGill, Special Agent-in-Charge, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General; and Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine L. Wong is prosecuting the case.   

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-cr-129. 

Updated September 16, 2016