Seattle ICE Lawyer Charged With Stealing Immigrants' Identities and Using Them to Commit Fraud

Members of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency keep watch over demonstrators protesting against a new Arizona law on April 30, 2010 outside of a government building which houses ICE in New York City. This week, the chief counsel for the ICE team in Seattle was charged with stealing immigrants' identities and using them to defraud credit card companies. Getty

The chief counsel for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) team in Seattle has been accused of stealing immigrants' identities and using them to defraud credit card companies.

Raphael A. Sanchez was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to a court document filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on Monday.

According to the document, Sanchez allegedly stole the identities of seven people who were involved in "various stages of immigration proceedings" and used them to obtain money and property by defrauding several financial institutions, including Capital One, Citibank, JP Morgan, Bank of America and American Express. The alleged crimes took place over a four-year period, between October 2013 and October 2017.

"[Sanchez used] the personally identifying information of seven aliens in various stages of immigration proceedings... to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises," the charging document stated.

The document also accuses Sanchez of stealing an image of a Chinese person's permanent resident card and the biographical page of their passport. The victim was identified only as R.H.

The charge, dated April 18, 2016, states that Sanchez emailed the images from his ICE government work email to his personal Yahoo email address along with a "Puget Sound Energy bill addressed to R.H".

In addition to the filing on Monday, Sanchez also resigned from his post at the agency effective the same day, the Associated Press reported.

ICE has made headlines in recent months for its role in President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown. Late January, immigration agents were reportedly told that it is now official U.S. government policy to capture and detain undocumented immigrants in federal, state and local courthouses.

On Monday, the police department in Tukwila, Washington, close to Seattle, came under fire after it turned an immigrant calling for help over to ICE agents.

Sanchez's defense attorney Cassandra Stamm did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.