Chief Counsel Raphael Sanchez for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Seattle was arrested for stealing immigrants’ identities and then paying his bills with the stolen information.
Sanchez resigned on Monday and had his first court appearance on Thursday.
Sanchez devised a scheme to use immigrants’ identities in order to defraud financial institutions including American Express, Bank of America Citibank, Discover, and JPMorgan Chase, according to a charging document, which was entered in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Sanchez stole the identities of seven people in various stages of immigration proceedings to defraud credit card companies.
Prosecutors with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section investigated the incident. The Public Integrity Section pursues efforts to combat corruption by public officials.
In or around October 2013 to October 2017 Sanchez stole and used the identifies of seven immigrants for his own financial benefit.
The charging document contained few specifics about the allegations, but did give one example: It said that in April 2016 Sanchez stole the name, Social Security number and birth date of a Chinese national.
Sanchez then sent an email from his government account to his Yahoo account that included personal information pertaining to the Chinese national identified only as R.H. The information Sanchez sent included an image of R.H.’s U.S. permanent resident card, the biographical page of R.H.’s Chinese passport and a utility bill in R.H.’s name from Puget Sound Energy.
Sanchez is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, both are felonies.
ICE in Seattle has been at the forefront of illegal immigration. They arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants in September’s Operation Safe City, which was 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.
Sanchez negotiated a $2.25 million civil settlement in 2015 with a Washington apple orchard owner that was accused of hiring more than 900 employees who were not authorized to work in the United States.