Criminal Justice

A former top ICE lawyer in Seattle gets prison time for stealing immigrant identities

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The former chief counsel for the Seattle office of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for stealing the identities of immigrants in removal proceedings to take out loans and credit cards.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik of Seattle sentenced 44-year-old Raphael A. Sanchez on Thursday, according to the Associated Press, the Seattle Times and a Justice Department press release. Lasnik also ordered Sanchez to pay $190,000 in restitution.

Sanchez also agreed to surrender his law license, according to the Seattle Times.

Sanchez was responsible for immigration removal proceedings in Alaska, Oregon and Washington. He pleaded guilty in February to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He had admitted to using information in ICE files and its database to find immigrants whose identities he could steal. He used work computers to forge identification documents before opening credit card and bank accounts in their names.

Sanchez was accused of making charges and drawing payments for more than $190,000 in the names of eight immigrants. He also claimed three immigrants as dependents on his tax returns.

Sanchez had said he began the scheme after struggling with money troubles, depression, fatigue and a failed relationship, according to the AP story.

Sanchez’s attorney, Cassandra Stamm, said Sanchez self-destructive tendencies that stemmed from an upbringing by an alcoholic, violent father.

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