As if things couldn't get any worse for the Immigration Customs Enforcement.
Federal officers are recommending that Raphael Sanchez, the former chief attorney for the ICE in Seattle, spend four years in prison for confessing to having stolen the identities of immigrants during a multi-year fraud scheme.
Sanchez is charged with abusing "his position of public trust to prey our nation’s immigrants," according to court documents filed by lawyers working for the Department of Justice's public Integrity Session in advance of his sentencing. The 44-year-old attorney pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in February, and is being held in custody since agreeing to surrender his bar license.
As one of the bureau's former lead attorneys, Sanchez was responsible for overseeing immigration proceedings in Alaska, Ohio, Oregon and Washington. Throughout October 2013-October 2017, he devised a plan to defraud seven individuals during different stages of their immigration removal proceedings.
"Over a period of years, he exploited numerous victim aliens, defrauded major financial institutions, and monetized his position of public trust," the court documents detail.
Using personal information he was able to gather through the ICE's personal database, Sanchez fabricated identification documents in the names of his victims, but would use his own photo. He was then able to open lines of credit and bank accounts in the immigrants' names, embezzling nearly $190,000 from six different financial institutions.
According to court documents, many of his victims had left the United States "unaware of the debts that Sanchez incurred in their names and that these substantial balances were due, owing, and growing."
Additionally, Sanchez lied to the IRS, claiming that three of his victims were dependants so he could obtain deductions.
Cassandra Stamm, Sanchez's attorney, cites his "brutal upbringing" as the reason for his criminal activity. She further notes how he "never acquired the tools necessary to surmount the crippling psychological deficits," as a result of growing up in a violent household.
Ultimately, federal officials concede that "there can be no doubt that he ultimately overcame those challenges to become a successful attorney employed by the federal government."