Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A Senegalese national residing in La Mesa pleaded guilty Thursday to impersonating a dead American citizen for 31 years and using that identity to net himself thousands of dollars in unwarranted benefits.

Almamy Baba Ly admitted in San Diego federal court to assuming the identity of Lyle Lindsey, who was a toddler when he died in a San Diego car accident in 1957. Ly had been using Lindsey’s identity since 1988 prior to pleading guilty to identity theft charges. He faces up to 55 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine when sentenced Dec. 2.

Prosecutors say Ly somehow obtained an altered copy of Lindsey’s birth certificate and used it to apply for a Social Security number, California ID card and driver’s license.

He later applied for federal student loans, Pell Grants, and CalFresh/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and received thousands of dollars of which he wasn’t entitled, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Ly also garnered convictions for drug sales and robbery under Lindsey’s name, 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.”

–City News Service