The chief counsel for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle has been charged with stealing the identities of multiple immigrants for financial gain.
According to an indictment filed this week, ICE’s top attorney in its Seattle office allegedly devised a plan to steal the identities of seven immigrants over a four-year period while their cases were being processed by the federal immigration agency.
The lawyer, Raphael A. Sanchez, faces one count of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
A DOJ official told BuzzFeed News Sanchez resigned from the agency effective Monday, the same day the indictment against him was filed.
Sanchez used the identifying information of the seven immigrants to “defraud financial institutions” including American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank, Discover, and JPMorgan Chase, according to the charging document. He also allegedly used his official ICE email address to forward personal information of one of the victims, including an energy bill, a US residence card, and copy of a Chinese passport.
A spokeswoman with ICE’s Seattle office referred all questions about the indictment and Sanchez’s employment with the agency to the Department of Justice. According to the complaint, the case was spearheaded by the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section in Washington, DC, which oversees corruption cases involving public officials.
Officials with the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to questions about the case.
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.