ICE lawyer in Seattle charged with stealing immigrants' identities

Chief Counsel Raphael Sanchez for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Seattle was arrested for stealing immigrants' identities and then paying his bills with the stolen information. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence and up to a $250,000 fine.

The immigrants were all "in various stages of immigration proceedings", read the document signed by attorneys from Justice Department's Public Integrity Section. A spokeswoman for ICE's Seattle field office referred questions to the Department of Justice, where no one was immediately available to discuss the case.

In or around October 2013 to October 2017 Sanchez stole and used the identifies of seven immigrants for his own financial benefit.

Sanchez's attorney, Cassandra Stamm, declined to comment Tuesday night, and said she would be issuing a statement on behalf of her client following his scheduled court appearance Thursday.

Additionally, the court documents claimed that Sanchez had used R.H.'s social security number and birthday.

The charging document contained few specifics about the allegations, but it did give one example: It said that in April 2016, Sanchez sent an email from his government account to his Yahoo account that included personal information pertaining to a Chinese national identified only as R.H.

Over 15 million people each year have their identity stolen. He entered his pleas Thursday at U.S. District Court in Seattle, acknowledging to the U.S. Magistrate Judge John L. Weinberg that his victims were vulnerable due to their immigration status. Sanchez resigned effective February 12, the day the information-a federal charging document-was filed in the Western District of Washington.

The Associated Press reported that it's liked Sanchez will be seeking a plea agreement, because the type of document filed is usually indicative of a defendant waving the right to be indicted by a grand jury. Local police and city officials say undocumented immigrants may not help with unrelated police investigations if they fear being targeted for deportation by coming forward.

ICE has made headlines in recent months for its role in President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown.

  • Tracy Klein