ICE Lawyer Charged With Stealing Immigrants’ Identities

 nytimes.com  2/14/2018 8:17:00 PM   Christine Hauser
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents enter a Dallas apartment complex looking for a specific undocumented immigrant convicted of a felony. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File) LM Otero/Associated Press

The top lawyer for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Seattle has been charged with trying to steal the identities of seven people who were in immigration proceedings.

The ICE chief counsel, Raphael A. Sanchez, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to court documents filed on Monday in United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. He allegedly used the personal information “to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses” when their cases were under review by ICE, the charging document said.

His fraud attempts allegedly involved American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank and Discover Financial Services. They began in October 2013 and continued through Oct. 25, 2017.

The documents said the seven people were at various stages of immigration proceedings when Mr. Sanchez had access to their identification information.

In one instance in 2016, Mr. Sanchez allegedly used his work email account to send information to his personal Yahoo account about a person who had immigrated from China, identified as R.H. The email included a utility bill, images of the biographical page of R.H.’s Chinese passport and R.H.’s United States permanent resident card, the document said.

Mr. Sanchez also allegedly used, without “lawful authority,” other identification to commit the wire fraud, such as R.H.’s social security number and birth date, the document said.

Mr. Sanchez is scheduled to make his first appearance in court on Thursday, his lawyer, Cassandra Stamm, said in an email. She confirmed Mr. Sanchez had resigned from his job effective on Monday, but declined to provide further details.

The Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, which pursues efforts to combat corruption by public officials, is overseeing the case.

The type of charging document filed in Mr. Sanchez’s case, called an information, is used when a defendant has agreed to waive his or her right to be indicted by a grand jury, according to The Associated Press, and typically indicates that a plea agreement is in the works.

It was not clear whether any of the seven people whose identities were tampered with suffered financial or legal difficulties as a result of the alleged actions. ICE said in a statement that its internal affairs office conducted the investigation.

Officials from the Justice Department and ICE declined to provide further details about Mr. Sanchez’s responsibilities and the amount of time he had been on the job. A 2015 press statement on the ICE website shows that he had been involved in enforcing matters related to employment, including one case in which an orchard was using undocumented workers.

« Go back