Washington: Former ICE Lawyer Raphael A. Sanchez Who Stole Immigrants’ Identities Gets 4 Years in Prison

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This previously covered story has come to a conclusion. Lawyer Sanchez received a justified 4-year prison sentence. What is alarming is how easy it would be for attorneys working for the gov't like Sanchez to attempt the scam of stealing identities of illegal immigrants.

Washington: Former ICE Lawyer Raphael A. Sanchez Who Stole Immigrants’ Identities Gets 4 Years in Prison

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers searching for an undocumented immigrant in New York in April.

A former top lawyer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for stealing the identities of seven people in immigration proceedings and purchasing goods through accounts in their names, federal officials said.

The former lawyer, Raphael A. Sanchez, 44, pleaded guilty in February to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in federal court in Seattle. His lawyer and federal prosecutors had jointly recommended the 48-month sentence, according to court documents.

On Thursday, Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington agreed to the sentence and ordered Mr. Sanchez to pay more than $190,000 in restitution, John P. Cronan, the acting assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s criminal division, said in a statement.

“Raphael Sanchez was entrusted with overseeing the honest enforcement of our country’s immigration laws,” Mr. Cronan said. Instead, Mr. Sanchez “abused that trust, and capitalized on his position at ICE to exploit his victims and line his own pockets.”

Mr. Sanchez’s lawyer, Cassandra Stamm, did not immediately respond on Thursday to a request for comment. In a sentencing memorandum filed last week, Ms. Stamm said that Mr. Sanchez admitted that he “abused a position of public trust” and defrauded people, including some who were “particularly vulnerable.”

But she said Mr. Sanchez, who resigned from ICE in February and relinquished his law license, was unable to overcome “adverse” childhood experiences that “ultimately led him to thoroughly sabotage all that he had worked for so long and so hard to achieve by committing this serious offense.”

Mr. Sanchez started working for ICE in 2001, the same year that he graduated from the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Ms. Stamm’s memorandum said. He took assignments aimed at curbing human smuggling and in its war crimes unit, her memorandum said. In 2011, he was promoted to chief counsel for ICE in Seattle.

In that role, he became responsible for overseeing deportation proceedings in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, according to federal prosecutors.

But from October 2013 through Oct. 25 last year, prosecutors said in their sentencing memorandum, Mr. Sanchez used ICE databases and immigration files to obtain the personal information of the seven people, including their social security numbers, birth dates, phone numbers and addresses.

He then created counterfeit identity documents in their names, affixing his photograph to the ones with male names, and a photograph of a female murder victim whose image had been published in press accounts for the identity documents that had female names, prosecutors said.

He used their identities to take out lines of credit and personal loans, to transfer funds and to purchase goods that were shipped to his house, according to prosecutors. The charges or payments totaled more than $190,000, a Justice Department statement in February said.

He also used PayPal, Amazon, Square, Venmo and Coin to process the fraudulent transactions, and claimed three of the people as dependents on his tax returns, according to the statement. His fraud attempts allegedly involved American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank and Discover Financial Services.

Some of the people have left the United States and were not aware that debt balances were growing, the sentencing memorandum from prosecutors said.

“He left numerous victims to suffer in his wake,” AnnaLou Tirol, the acting chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which is overseeing the case, said in the memorandum. “More broadly, his greed may have diminished the public’s trust in the honest services of its government.”

“Sanchez sold his principles for profit,” Ms. Tirol added.

Source: The New York Times