A former social worker who stole the identities of foster children and sold the information to tax preparers has been sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison on charges that he conspired to defraud the IRS, authorities said.
Gebah Kamara, 50, of West Chester and formerly of Sharon Hill, had worked at Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia from 2007 to around October 2011.
U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III sentenced him Wednesday on charges of conspiracy, aiding and abetting the preparation of false federal income tax returns, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Kamara pleaded guilty to the charges in December 2014.
Acting U.S. Attorney Louis Lappen said in a statement that Kamara had stolen the personal identity information of foster children from his employer, and sold that information to tax preparers in Philadelphia to use as fraudulent dependents on income tax returns.
Federal prosecutors said that beginning about 2008, Kamara sold the personal identity information of children to his codefendants, who operated Medmans Financial Services, a tax-preparation business with two offices in Southwest Philadelphia. Kamara had access to the names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of foster children and members of the children's foster families, authorities said.
Kamara was among eight defendants charged in the scam. The owner of Medmans, Mohamed Mansaray, is to be sentenced Monday.
An eighth person, Shirl Robinson of Darby, was indicted in 2012, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced in 2013. The details of her sentencing were sealed.
The false information provided by Kamara generated large fraudulent tax refunds, some in excess of $9,000 per return, authorities said. Kamara was paid about $200 to $300 for each child's identity that was included on an income tax return that was accepted by the IRS for processing, prosecutors said.
For the 2007 through 2010 tax years, 283 false tax returns were filed using 321 foster children's identities that had been provided by Kamara, causing a tax loss of $1.2 million, prosecutors said.
Kamara's defense attorney, Brian McMonagle, could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Attorney James M. Polyak of Reading, who had represented Kamara at his June 12, 2014, arraignment, said then that Kamara was "prepared to accept responsibility for his role in the incident." He said Kamara was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Liberia and lived with his wife and children in Sharon Hill.