ICE Attorney Sentenced for Identify Theft Scheme

Eliza Grinberg's picture

On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Raphael A. Sanchez, former Chief Counsel of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) “was sentenced to 48 months in prison for a wire fraud and aggravated identity theft scheme involving the identities of numerous aliens” [PDF version].

Specifically, Sanchez pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In addition to his prison sentence, “U.S. District Court Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the Western District of Washington ordered Sanchez to pay $190,345.63 in restitution.”

In Sanchez's plea agreement, he admitted “that he intentionally devised a scheme to defraud aliens in various stages of immigration removal proceedings with ICE.” In so doing, he used personally identifiable information of his victims “to open lines of credit and personal loans in their names, manipulate their credit bureau files, transfer funds to himself and to purchase goods for himself using credit cards issued in their names.” More troubling still, Sanchez admitted that he obtained the personally identifiable information “by using ICE's official computer database systems and by accessing their official, hard-copy immigration A files.” After obtaining this information, he listed his personal residence as that of his victims on account paperwork. He made charges or drew payments totaling more than $190,000 in the names of his victims. Furthermore, “Sanchez also claimed three aliens as relative dependents on his tax returns for 2014, 2015, and 2016.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan stated: “Raphael Sanchez was entrusted with overseeing the honest enforcement of our country's immigration laws. Instead, Sanchez abused that trust, and capitalized on his position at ICE to exploit his victims and line his own pockets.”

As Cronan noted, ICE agents, as well as other agents and officers in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are responsible for enforcing the immigration laws. In this capacity, they necessarily have access to personally identifying information from a vast number of people, many of whom are especially vulnerable to exploitation. To abuse that responsibility for personal gain is not only incredibly damaging to the victims, but also undermines the public trust and confidence in government. Fortunately, Raphael A. Sanchez will serve a lengthy sentence for his crimes. However it is incumbent on ICE and other government agencies to be vigilant and identify those who abuse their positions before they can do as much damage as what occurred in the instant case.

ICE Attorney Sentenced for Identify Theft Scheme