Two administrators and co-founders of a city-funded social-service agency, convicted in March of conspiracy and fraud charges stemming from the death of Danieal Kelly, were sentenced yesterday to long terms in federal prison.
Kelly, who was 14 and had cerebral palsy, died in August 2006 from bedsores and malnutrition.
Mickal Kamuvaka, 61, who ran the day-to-day operations of MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc., was sentenced to 17 1/2 years by U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell.
Solomon Manamela, 52, a supervisor of caseworkers at MultiEthnic, drew a 14-year sentence.
Dalzell ordered both defendants taken into custody immediately.
The Department of Human Services had hired MultiEthnic to provide in-home social services to 500 families with children at risk of abuse or neglect. The agency was paid more than $3.6 million between July 2000 and December 2006.
Authorities said that after Kelly died, Kamuvaka, who is known as "Dr. K" and who has a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, orchestrated a fraud to backdate and falsify records in an attempt to fool city auditors into thinking that the agency had been making visits to children, including Kelly, that never occurred.
When the feds began investigating, prosecutors said Kamuvaka convinced one former MultiEthnic co-worker to lie to federal agents and schemed to obstruct the federal grand jury's investigation by withholding and shredding agency records related to Kelly and dumping them into a trash bin.
Before imposing sentence, Dalzell said Kamuvaka's stewardship of MultiEthnic was so "lackadaisical" that it was "just a matter of time" before one of the children under its care would die.
The judge also said that Kamuvaka and Manamela had engaged in an "orgy of document fabrication" and that neither defendant appreciated the "full import" of the crimes.
Kamuvaka declined to address Dalzell at sentencing.
Defense attorney William Cannon said she wanted to preserve her appellate rights. He said in court papers that "should not be looked upon as some coldhearted indifference to . . . the tragic death" of Kelly.
Prosecutors said that nearly every MultiEthnic employee - with the exception of one - who was interviewed by investigators described some illegal or improper act Kamuvaka had asked or directed them to take.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bea Witzleben depicted Kamuvaka as a remorseless offender who not only abandoned her own responsibilities, but encouraged and directed subordinates to do the same and condoned caseworker Julius Juma Murray's decision to ignore Kelly's desperate plight in the four months leading up to her death.
Murray, who was directly supervised by Kamuvaka, was to be sentenced today. (Both have been charged with involuntary manslaughter by the district attorney and have a trial date in Common Pleas Court in November.)
When Kamuvaka was shown photographs of Kelly's "gruesome" condition at the time of her death, Witzleben said she tried to convince others the photos were "fake."
The prosecutor said the fraud and conspiracy directed by Kamuvaka was "breathtaking" and "jaw-dropping" in its scope.
Cannon, who called a dozen witnesses who testified about the positive impact Kamuvaka had on their lives, said it would be unfair to "punish" her for Kelly's death because it was "not foreseeable," adding, "it cannot be that anyone should think of Dr. Kamuvaka as an evil person."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Vineet Gauri described Manamela as Kamuvaka's "right-hand man" who had helped "supervise the cooking sessions" of agency books, referring to fabricating records.
During the trial, prosecutors showed the jury supervision records that had been signed by Manamela for dates when he was outside the country.
Court papers said a forensic computer examination by federal agents found backdated quarterly progress reports signed by Manamela and others that were created after Kelly's death.
Manamela told Dalzell that he was "very remorseful" for his misdeeds, that he had been "very traumatized" when he learned Kelly had died and attributed problems at MultiEthnic to "poor oversight."
Five other former MEBH employees charged in the case - including some who cooperated with the feds - were sentenced earlier to prison terms of 15 to 90 months.