A former Coram man admitted Tuesday that instead of caring for people with severe brain injuries, he stole their identities to collect state tax refunds.
Benjamin Achampong, 30, 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 pleaded guilty 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.
"The victims of the identity theft are the most helpless victims we have in our society," said Assistant District Attorney Jon Manley. "It's heartbreaking."
In return for the plea, Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson promised to sentence Achampong to 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. Manley said his office wanted a sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison for the top grand larceny charge.
As part of the plea deal, Achampong will pay $20,000 to the state in restitution.
Achampong admitted taking patients' names and Social Security numbers, then filing state tax returns in their names after making up employment details and income. He then had refunds deposited directly to several bank accounts he controlled in some cases. When he got paper checks, he forged signatures and deposited them.
"He's extremely remorseful," said his attorney, Michael Alber of Rockville Centre. "He's hoping to put this behind him."
Manley said this wasn't Achampong's first scam. He also filed fake tax returns in New Jersey, and he faces credit card fraud charges in Georgia, where he is accused of manufacturing fake credit cards.
He also is 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.
Manley said Achampong will be sent to Georgia when he completes his sentence in New York State. He is expected to be sentenced Jan. 25.
Achampong and Manley said the head injury association was unaware of what he was doing while he worked there.