It takes a particularly callous personality to work for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But imagine someone who used his position as ICE’s top legal adviser in the Seattle region to steal the identities of numerous immigrants to fraudulently secure nearly $200,000. And this is on top of his annual six-figure salary at ICE.
But this is exactly what Raphael Sanchez, 44, has done, and now he’s going to prison. On Thursday, Sanchez, who worked for ICE for nearly two decades, was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay over $190,000 in restitution for his scam, which stole personal information from immigrants to secure lines of credit and personal loans in their names.
“Raphael Sanchez was entrusted with overseeing the honest enforcement of our country’s immigration laws,” acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan of the Criminal Division said, according to Government Executive. “Instead, Sanchez abused that trust, and capitalized on his position at ICE to exploit his victims and line his own pockets.”
With unbridled access to otherwise confidential agency information, Sanchez was uniquely able to devise a well-planned scheme. Between October 2013 and October 2017, Sanchez combed government databases and immigration files and collected personal information on his soon-to-be victims, according to a Justice Department news release. Sanchez preyed on individuals who would not realize or be able to report a stolen identity by targeting people without legal status. All victims were at various stages of ICE’s removal proceedings, according to a statement released by ICE.
Using fraudulent information from some of society’s most vulnerable people, Sanchez secured bank accounts, credit cards, email accounts, and other resources to pull off his vile scam.
To keep up with the web of lies, Sanchez falsified documents like public utility accounts for proof of residence and assembled counterfeit IDs, the court documents say. For the male identities, Sanchez used his own photograph, and for the female identities he affixed a picture released in the media of a woman who had been murdered. Sanchez also lied to the Internal Revenue Service for three years, claiming a few aliens as dependent family members to receive extra tax deductions, according to a Justice Department statement.
Eventually, Sanchez got caught following an audit by ICE. He was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft and pleaded guilty last February. In addition to being fired, Sanchez also has been disbarred.
Let’s hope this case of a disgusting and greedy predator adds to the continuing demands for ICE to be abolished.