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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 12, 2019

Senegalese National Admits Impersonating Deceased U.S. Citizen Since 1988

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Hill (619) 546-7924

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 12, 2019

SAN DIEGO – Almamy Baba Ly pleaded guilty in federal court today to identity theft charges, admitting that he misused the identity of a deceased American citizen for 31 years in order to obtain identification documents and thousands of dollars in federal, state and local government benefits.

During a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt, 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 Lindsey’s birth certificate to apply first for a Social Security number and then for a California Identification Card and Driver’s 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 over $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.

In July 2019, United States Border Patrol agents simultaneously served a search warrant and arrested Ly at his residence in La Mesa, California.  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.”

On behalf of the United States Border Patrol, San Diego Chief Patrol Agent Douglas E. Harrison stated: “I am grateful and proud of the tenacity, persistence, and hard work that our agents and law enforcement partners have demonstrated over the past several months, which have resulted in this conviction.”

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. 

DEFENDANT                       Case Number 19-cr-2864-AJB          

Almamy Baba Ly                   La Mesa, California.

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Unlawful Production of an Identification Document – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1028(a)(1)

Maximum penalty: Fifteen years in prison, $250,000 fine

Theft of Public Property – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 641

Maximum penalty: Ten years in prison, $721,817.70 fine, restitution

AGENCIES

United States Border Patrol – Sector Intelligence Unit / Chula Vista Station

United States Homeland Security Investigations

California Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations Division

Bureau of Public Assistance Investigations, County of San Diego

Topic(s): 
Identity Theft
Press Release Number: 
CAS19-0912-Ly
Updated September 12, 2019