Seattle ICE Lawyer Found Guilty of ID Theft of Immigrants Awaiting Deportation

Credit:Sherry Smith

(ESPAÑOL) A former ICE lawyer in Seattle was sentenced to four years in prison for ID theft of people facing deportation and using them to run up bills totaling $190,000.

Raphael Sanchez, 44, resigned when he was charged in the four-year scheme in February. He had overseen deportation proceedings in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington since 2011 as the agency’s top lawyer in the region.

“Sanchez was entrusted with significant authority to represent the United States in crucial immigration proceedings that deeply shaped the lives of many,” attorneys Luke Cass and Jessica Harvey, of the Justice Department’s public integrity section, wrote in a sentencing memo to the court. “Sanchez abandoned the principles he swore to uphold and used his authority merely as a vehicle for personal profit.”

As part of a deal in which Sanchez pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, prosecutors and Sanchez’s attorney, Cassandra Stamm, agreed to recommend a four-year prison term.

Tracy Short, ICE’s principal legal adviser, said in a written statement that the agency’s employees are held to the highest standards of professional conduct.

“Individuals who violate the public’s trust will face consequences for their actions, as Mr. Sanchez did in this case,” Short said. “Corruption will not be tolerated.”

Sanchez’s scheme ran from late 2013 to late last year. He took personal information about at least seven people who had been or could be deported from immigration files and then forged identification documents, such as Social Security cards and driver’s licenses, in their names. Sometimes, he used a picture of a murder victim that had appeared in a newspaper as an identification photo.

He used the forged IDs to obtain lines of credit and credit-monitoring services to determine which of his victims had the best credit. He also listed three victims as dependents on his income tax returns.

The victims’ status as deportable — or in some cases having already left the country — made it less likely they’d discover and report the fraud, prosecutors said.