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ICE Lawyer Charged With Stealing Immigrants' Identities To Commit Bank Fraud

Raphael Sanchez, a chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has been charged with stealing immigrants' identities.
The Washington Post
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Raphael Sanchez, a chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has been charged with stealing immigrants' identities.

While their cases were in various stages of immigration proceedings, seven people had their identities stolen by the chief counsel for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Seattle, according to a filing by the Justice Department.

Raphael Sanchez devised a scheme to use the immigrants' identities in order to defraud financial institutions including American Express, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, according to the filing, which was entered in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Sanchez resigned from the agency on Monday, The Associated Press reports. He is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, occurring between October 2013 and October 2017.

The filing cites an example of a communication by Sanchez with intent to defraud. It describes an email sent in April 2016 from Sanchez's work email to his Yahoo account, containing an energy bill addressed to a Chinese national identified only as R.H. The email also included a photo of R.H.'s U.S. permanent resident card and a copy of the biographical page from his Chinese passport. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reportsthat Sanchez used R.H's information to pay the energy bill.

Sanchez is scheduled to appear in court Thursday. The AP explains that the charging document in Sanchez's case is used when the defendant has waived his right to be indicted by a grand jury, indicating that a plea agreement is likely.

The Washington Post notesthat ICE agents in the state have been active in President Trump's immigration crackdown: "They arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants in September's 'Operation Safe City' operation, a four-day effort in which the administration targeted 'sanctuary cities' around the country, including Seattle, where local officials do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement."

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.
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