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Fmr. mgr. of Head Injury Assoc. accused of ID theft

April 13, 2012 2:56:01 PM PDT
The former manager for The Head Injury Association on Long Island is accused of stealing the identities of dozens of his patients.

Police say he filed fake tax returns for them and collected refunds.

He took a job caring for those who can't help themselves, but Eyewitness News has learned a grand jury has indicted 30-year-old Benjamin Achampong, for allegedly preying on the patients that he was supposed to protect.

"They have traumatic brain injuries and to take advantage of them in such a way it's, I don't know, it's immoral," said Spencer Laibhen, a former employee.

In 2006, Achampong worked as a manager at The Head Injury Association, which runs a network of group homes on Long Island for people with traumatic brain injuries.

Before he was fired, prosecutors say Achampong stole the identities of more than 50 of patients to use in an elaborate tax scam.

"Oh yeah. It's unbelievable," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

Suffolk County DA Tom Spota says Achampong used his victims' names and social security numbers to e-file phony tax returns.

He allegedly netted more than $200,000 in federal, New York and New Jersey refunds.

They were all direct deposited into a dozen bank accounts that were set up in the names of his victims.

"The investigation took quite a while because many of the people with the brain injuries really couldn't cooperate with us," Spota said.

That's why the scam went undetected for years, until a New Jersey investigator uncovered the fraud and notified his Suffolk County counterparts.

In the meantime, Achampong was convicted of similar crime at a Nassau County group home.

Six months ago, he was arrested near Atlanta in a case of credit card fraud.

Spencer Laibhen used to work for The Head Injury Association and can't fathom this most craven of crimes.

"We're held to a certain standard and we're supposed to abide and uphold those standards for the sake of the individuals. And for somebody to go ahead and take advantage, it's sickening," Laibhen said.

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