Top ICE lawyer charged with stealing immigrant IDs in Seattle

ICE enforcement in apartment complex

The chief counsel at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Seattle has resigned after being charged with allegedly stealing identities from seven people involved in immigration proceedings.

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.

Raphel A Sanchez, who was ICE's top attorney in its Seattle office reportedly planned to steal identities of seven immigrants over a time span of four years for financial gain, while their cases were being reviewed by the federal immigration agency.

The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment. The charges were handed down from Justice Department's Public Integrity Section. 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.

The Justice Department also alleges that Sanchez used the identifying information, including a Social Security of a Chinese permanent resident.

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Although specific details were few in the filing, an example of one of the allegations noted an April 2016 email that Sanchez sent from his government account to his personal Yahoo account.

According to court rules, the type of charging document filed in Sanchez's case - called an information - can be filed only when a defendant has agreed to waive his or her right to be indicted by a grand jury; it's typically an indication that a plea agreement is in the works.

As chief counsel, Sanchez in negotiated a $2.25 Dollars million civil settlement in 2015 with a Washington apple orchard owner that was accused of hiring more than 900 employees who were not authorized to work in the United States.

His attorney, Cassandra Stamm, told CNN she is withholding comment on the matter until after Sanchez appears in court Thursday.

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

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