An official seal.
Seal of the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of California. Photo via Twitter @SDCAnews.

A Senegalese national and La Mesa resident who impersonated a dead American citizen for 31 years to net himself thousands of dollars in unwarranted benefits was sentenced Monday to 30 months in federal prison.

Almamy Baba Ly, 63, pleaded guilty in September to identity theft charges for assuming the identity of Lyle Lindsey — who was a toddler when he died in a San Diego car accident in 1957, according to federal prosecutors.

Ly was also ordered to pay $88,551 in restitution and will likely be deported following his prison term, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said Ly somehow obtained an altered copy of Lindsey’s birth certificate in 1988 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 using the name, and received thousands of dollars of which he wasn’t entitled, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Along the way, Ly was convicted and sentenced to prison for drug sales and robbery under Lindsey’s name, prosecutors said.

Ly was arrested at his La Mesa home in July, during which investigators found a recently issued Senagalese national ID card with his true name and date of birth.

“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 New Service