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Press Release

Ivory Coast Diplomat Sentenced for Conspiracy and Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Koissy Thomas Kemmeth, 52, of New York, New York, was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making a false, fictitious and fraudulent claim against the United States.  Kemmeth was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $37,000 and pay $105,000 in restitution.

Kemmeth pleaded guilty on Sept. 14.  According to court documents, Kemmeth was a native and citizen of the Ivory Coast who worked as a driver for the Ivory Coast Mission to the United Nations. 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, using Tanoh’s real name and also his aliases, on the official letterhead of the Ivory Coast Mission, thus appearing to have been issued under 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, Kemmeth used the name of 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 also assisted with the scheme by providing his bank account information to Tanoh so that fraudulent refunds could be deposited into Kemmeth’s account.  With Kemmeth’s knowledge and consent, Tanoh also used the mailing address for the Ivory Coast Mission on some of the fraudulent income tax returns.  Kemmeth would then collect any mail sent to the Mission for these returns. 

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Terrence P. McKeown, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington; Michael McGill, Special Agent-in-Charge, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General; and Thomas Holloman, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Eric M. Thorson, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Treasury made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine L. Wong prosecuted 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 January 3, 2017