A lawyer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has pleaded guilty to stealing immigrants’ identities, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Raphael A. Sanchez, 44, was identified as ICE’s chief legal counsel in Seattle. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identify theft.
The Justice Department said Sanchez stole the identities of seven people by using ICE’s computer database systems and accessing their official hard-copy immigration A-files. He then forged identification documents on his work computer, including Social Security cards and Washington state driver’s licenses in the victims’ names. Sanchez used the forged documents to open credit card and bank accounts in the names of the immigrants.
In addition to listing his home address as the immigrants’ residences on account paperwork, he also created public-utility account statements in their name to provide the proof of residence necessary to open a bank account or obtain a credit card. He also manufactured false earnings statements and even registered a car in one immigrant’ name, the Justice Department said.
Once the accounts were approved, he made charges or drew payments totaling more than $190,000 in the names of clients to himself or entities that he controlled using PayPal or mobile point-of-sale devices. He had also purchased goods in the name of clients and had them shipped to his residence.
Sanchez will be sentenced on May 11 before U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lansik of the Western District of Washington.
“It is the duty of our federal immigration authorities to ensure the honest enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws,” said acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan. “Raphael Sanchez betrayed that solemn responsibility and abused his official position to prey upon aliens for his own personal gain. We should not let one bad actor detract from the dedicated work done by all ICE agents and attorneys to keep our neighborhoods safe, and ICE should be commended for quickly and fully investigating this matter and referring it to the Justice Department for prosecution.”
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