ICE Chief Counsel in Washington State Charged with Identity Theft

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The top attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle is accused of stealing immigrants' identities in an attempt to defraud several credit card companies.

In more news on immigration, activists and civil liberties advocates are issuing warnings over reports that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, is seeking to become an intelligence agency. ICE has also detained or deported immigration activists, sparking charges that the agency is improperly targeting political opponents.

Raphael Sanchez, ICE's chief counsel in Seattle, Wash., was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. He then allegedly used that information to defraud financial institutions including American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank, Discover, and JPMorgan Chase. He also allegedly used his official ICE email address to forward personal information of one of the victims, including an energy bill, a USA residence card, and copy of a Chinese passport. Sanchez is said to have emailed himself the personal details belonging to a Chinese national referred to as R.H., from his government email account to his Yahoo one.

A Justice Department official told BuzzFeed News Sanchez resigned from the agency effective Monday, the same day the indictment against him was filed.

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The court's calendar showed that Sanchez is due to enter a plea Thursday.

Neither an attorney for Sanchez nor the Department of Justice had a comment immediately.

The Associated Press notes that the filing of an information suggests that a plea deal is in the works; it's only filed when the defendant has waived the right to a grand jury.

ICE agents in Washington have played an active role in President Trump's immigration crackdown.

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