ICE's Former Official Pleads Guilty to Stealing Immigrant IDs, Credit Card Fraud

A protester fighting to keep immigrant families together. GETTY

The former chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, in Seattle, who recently stepped down from his post, pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing the identities of at least seven immigrants to defraud credit card companies.

As reported by The Seattle Times, Raphael Sanchez, 44, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft at a U.S. District Court in Seattle. Magistrate John Weinberg set sentencing for May 12.

Sanchez admitted to using ICE's database to find and track down immigrants' IDs to open fraudulent credit cards. He also admitted to claiming three immigrants as dependents on his 2014-15 tax returns.

The Justice Department brought forth the charges against Sanchez earlier this month. The department contends Sanchez stole seven immigrants' identities and defrauded credit card companies out of more than $190,000.

Wire fraud carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence and up to a $250,000 fine.

Government prosecutors will recommend a four-year sentence as part of Sanchez's plea agreement.

According to a report by the Associated Press earlier this week, the charges show that Sanchez sent an email from his government account to his Yahoo account with the personal information of Chinese immigrants, including a picture of his Green Card, the front page of the immigrant's passport, and a utility bill under his name.

In a statement provided to the Times on Thursday, Sanchez's lawyer said that her client is "a good person who has made serious mistakes."