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Ex-ICE chief counsel gets 4 years in prison for stealing IDs of illegal immigrants

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents plan an early morning action on Monday, March 26, 2012, at the Los Angeles Sheriff Station parking lot in Valencia, Calif. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
July 10, 2018

The former chief counsel at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Seattle who was accused of using immigrant’s personal information to open lines of credit and take out loans has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Raphael Sanchez, 44, took a plea deal with the Justice Department, which was approved by a judge on Thursday.

Sanchez has also been ordered to pay more than $190,000 in restitution, NPR reported.

Sanchez’s job was to supervise immigration removal cases in several states.

The former chief counsel is accused of stealing and exploiting the identities of people who were “particularly vulnerable given their status as deported or otherwise excludable.”

Sanchez’s scheme went on from 2013 to 2017, prosecutors said.

He also misreported his earnings in his IRS filings by claiming three illegal aliens as relative dependents on his tax returns for 2014 through 2016, according to the Justice Department.

Sanchez was making $162,000 at his ICE job, but his total net worth was estimated at more than $700,000.

Sanchez pleaded guilty in February to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, just days after he resigned.

As part of his plea, he also signed a statement of fact acknowledging his actions.

Sanchez opened bank accounts, utility service accounts and email accounts under immigrants’ names — filling applications with the names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other data that he took from ICE computers and files, according to the government.

He also used his work computer to create counterfeit Washington state drivers’ licenses.

“Sanchez affixed his own photograph onto the forged identification documents using the information of male Victim Aliens. To forge female Victim Aliens’ identifications, Sanchez was even more brazen: he used the photograph of a murdered woman published in press accounts and the names of female Victim Aliens,” the Justice Department said.

Once the stolen identities were established, Sanchez used them to open lines of credit, write to credit bureaus and transfer funds to his own accounts.

Sanchez took in nearly $200,000 from the scheme, the government said.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said: “Raphael Sanchez betrayed that solemn responsibility and abused his official position to prey upon aliens for his own personal gain.”