Man gets prison for stealing patients' IDs

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A man who stole the identities of people with severe head injuries was sent to prison Monday with advice chosen from "Othello" by William Shakespeare.

Benjamin Achampong, 30, of Coram, pleaded guilty last month to 20 counts each of second-degree identity theft and offering a false instrument for filing, six counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and other charges.

He had worked as a manager in 2007 for the Long Island Head Injury Association, a Hauppauge agency that cares for people who have had strokes or severe brain injuries. He used the identities he stole to file fake tax returns for $20,000 in refunds.

"I do not have any praise for you, Mr. Achampong," Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson said to him before imposing a sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.

On the subject of identity theft, Hudson quoted Iago in the play's third act: "Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands: But he that filches from me my good name, robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed."

Hudson explained, "You cannot have a good name if you steal it from others."

Hudson asked Assistant District Attorney Jon Manley if any victims wished to address the court. Manley, alluding to how vulnerable the victims were, said, "That's not possible, your honor."

Manley said his office recommended the maximum sentence of 21/3 to 7 years in prison. As part of his plea deal, Achampong also paid $20,000 in restitution to the state for the money he made from the fake tax returns.

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Achampong admitted last month that he took patients' names and Social Security numbers, and then filed state tax returns in their names.

Manley said then that Achampong had also filed fake tax returns in New Jersey, and he faces credit card fraud charges in Georgia. He was already on probation in Nassau County for taking over the bank account of a dead man who had lived in a home for developmentally disabled adults where Achampong later worked.

Monday, he apologized.

"I'm truly sorry for what happened," he said. "I let a lot of people down."

Hudson replied, "Only time will tell, Mr. Achampong, if those words are sincere."

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