Obama appointee to senior ICE post pleads guilty

Raphael A. Sanchez has switched roles in the chronicle of Obama administration appointments.  No longer an ornament on the Obama diversity Christmas tree as a Hispanic senior legal official, the top attorney for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Seattle has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.  A press release from the Department of Justice states:

Sanchez, who had responsibility over immigration removal proceedings in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, intentionally devised a scheme to defraud seven aliens in various stages of immigration removal proceedings.  For his own personal gain, Sanchez used the personally identifiable information of those aliens to open lines of credit and personal loans in their names, manipulated their credit bureau files and transferred funds to and purchased goods for himself using credit cards issued in their names.

Sanchez admitted that he obtained personally identifiable information of the victim aliens by using ICE's official computer database systems and by accessing their official, hard-copy immigration A-files, and then forged identification documents on his work computer, such as social security cards and Washington State driver's licenses, in the victims' names.  Sanchez used the forged documents to open credit card and bank accounts in the names of aliens, which he controlled.


In furtherance of the scheme, Sanchez listed his home address as the aliens' residences on account paperwork; in some cases, created public utility account statements in their names to provide the necessary proof of residence in order to open lines of credit in their names or to conceal the scheme; and opened e-mail and online financial accounts in the names of several aliens.  Sanchez also manufactured a false earnings and leave statement in the name of one alien in furtherance of the scheme and registered a car in her name. 

Sanchez further admitted that once the accounts were approved and opened, he made charges or drew payments totaling more than $190,000 in the names of aliens to himself or entities that he controlled, often using PayPal and mobile point of sale devices from Amazon, Square, Venmo and Coin to process fraudulent Internet transactions.  In a number of cases, Sanchez purchased goods online in the names of aliens and had them shipped to his residence.  Sanchez also employed credit monitoring services on some of these aliens and corresponded with credit bureaus in the names of aliens to conceal his fraud scheme.  Finally, as part of the scheme to defraud, Sanchez also claimed three aliens as relative dependents on his tax returns for 2014 through 2016. 

Sanchez used his home address to receive the goods obtained by fraud, an incredibly stupid move for a purported legal expert.  That, of course, was no obstacle to an appointment in the Obama administration, as long as diversity points were available (or if political loyalty was assured).

Interestingly, none of the few media reports on this case includes a picture of Sanchez, and I have been unable to find one, which is rare for senior appointees in the federal government.  I don't know what to make of that.

Because of the guilty plea, it is almost certain that a plea deal was reached, but we won't have any indication of the penalty until he is  sentenced on May 11, before U.S. district judge Robert S. Lansik of the Western District of Washington. 

Hat tip: Miss Marple and Clarice Feldman

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