Raphael Sanchez, the former chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle, has been sentenced to four years in prison for stealing the identities of several immigrants.
Sanchez, whose annual salary was over $160,000 and who had a net worth of more than $700,000 before he resigned, was charged with stealing the identities of seven undocumented immigrants in order to commit wire fraud in February this year. Therefore, as well as identity theft, the lawyer was also charged with committing wire fraud.
Basically, the top ICE lawyer used identities of undocumented aliens, including their social security numbers, to get credit cards and receive loans from unsuspecting banks, according to Law and Crime.
Sanchez would prey on immigrants targeted by the ICE who were undergoing chaotic immigration proceedings. This was the probable reason that none of the immigrants targeted realized that their identities had been stolen by Sanchez.
The lawyer entered a plea deal three days after charges were brought, accepting all the accusations made against him.
Sanchez’ unique position as a chief counsel helped him directly execute his criminal scheme. He was entrusted with the task of supervising immigration removal cases, meaning the identities he stole would have been of those immigrants whose status was deported or “otherwise excludable,” as argued by the prosecutors in court.
A press release from the Department of Justice laid bare the whole scheme of the ICE lawyer.
“Once the accounts were approved and opened, Sanchez made charges or drew payments totaling more than $190,000 in the names of aliens to himself or entities that he controlled, often using PayPal and mobile point-of-sale devices from Amazon, Square, Venmo and Coin to process the fraudulent transactions. In a number of cases, Sanchez purchased goods online in the names of aliens and had them shipped to his residence.”
The report claims that Sanchez used to affix his own photograph onto the forged identification papers of his male victims. In cases where he was stealing the identities of women, he used the photograph of a murdered woman published in press releases.
Given the timing of Sanchez’s sentencing, which comes as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement faces increasing criticism for its role in executing the family separation policy as well carrying out deportations of thousands of immigrants, it could create further doubts in the minds of citizens already holding the institution culpable.