Tax preparer charged in alleged scam involving false dependents may plead guilty

Posted: June 18, 2014

A NINTH PERSON charged in a case involving a Southwest Philadelphia tax company accused of fraudulently using the identities of foster and disabled kids on tax returns may plead guilty next week.

Mohamed Conteh, of Collingdale, Delaware County, has a plea hearing slated for June 25 before U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis, according to an entry filed yesterday in his court docket.

Conteh had worked as a tax preparer at Medmans Financial Services at its Woodland Avenue office, near 66th Street.

The U.S. Attorney's Office last Thursday announced the unsealing of an indictment against six defendants in the Medmans case. Five worked at Medmans as tax preparers. Three of the five also worked at the Main Line-based Devereux Foundation, providing care for kids with disabilities.

The sixth defendant worked at Catholic Social Services, where he had access to foster kids' names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

The defendants were accused of conspiring to falsely use the identities of the foster and disabled kids on tax returns by listing them as dependents on clients' income-tax returns. By doing so, the tax preparers allegedly claimed false credits and generated large fraudulent refunds for their clients. In some cases, the defendants allegedly falsely claimed dependents on their own tax returns as well.

Their indictment indicated that the owner of Medmans, Mohamed Mansaray, had also been charged in the case. He was charged in May 2013 by criminal information, which typically indicates a guilty plea is in the works.

Court documents in Mansaray's case noted that another defendant, Shirl Robinson, was previously indicted in the case. Robinson, who was accused of selling names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of kids to Mansaray for use as false dependents on tax returns, has already pleaded guilty.

Yesterday, an IRS spokeswoman, Nneka Sutherland, told the Daily News that a ninth person - Conteh - was also charged in the case.

Conteh was charged by criminal information in May 2013. He is accused of falsely listing a dependent each on three customers' returns when they "had no legitimate dependent to claim."

He is charged with three felony counts of aiding in the preparation of false income-tax returns.

His attorney, Lawrence Singer, would not confirm yesterday whether his client would plead guilty next week, instead saying, "We have a hearing scheduled."

Conteh "was [responsible for] filling out the returns, not obtaining the Social Security numbers," Singer said.

Singer said Conteh now works at a place where he takes care of disabled adults in a group home. He believes Conteh does not have access to the adults' Social Security numbers.

"He's never been in trouble with the law before," Singer said.

The six defendants whose indictment was unsealed Thursday were Ahmed Kamara, Foday Mansaray, Gebah Kamara, Dauda Koroma, Ibrahim Kamara and Musa Turay.

Some of the defendants may be distant relatives, a prosecutor has said.

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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