SEATTLE (CN) – The former chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing immigrants’ identities and using them to open fraudulent credit card and bank accounts.
Raphael Sanchez resigned Monday when the charging documents were filed in federal court. He admitted to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Weinberg on Thursday.
Sanchez stole personally identifiable information of seven immigrants in various stages of removal proceedings and forged social security cards and Washington state driver’s licenses on his work computer, according to the plea agreement. He then used the documents to open credit card accounts and personal lines of credit to transfer funds and purchase goods for himself totaling more than $190,000 from October 2013 until October 25, 2017, the plea agreement says.
In some cases, Sanchez also listed his home address as the immigrants’ residence and created public utility account statements in their names for proof of residency to open lines of credit, according to prosecutors. He also claimed three immigrants as relative dependents on his tax returns for 2014 through 2016, prosecutors say.
Sanchez “looks forward to fully repaying all those affected by his crimes,” Sanchez’s attorney, Cassandra Stamm, said in a statement.
“It is the duty of our federal immigration authorities to ensure the honest enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws. Raphael Sanchez betrayed that solemn responsibility and abused his official position to prey upon aliens for his own personal gain,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan said in a statement.
Sanchez, who had responsibility over immigration removal proceedings in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert Lansik on May 11.