June 29 (UPI) — A former lawyer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing identities of immigrants facing deportation and accumulating nearly $200,000 in debt in their names, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.
The sentence comes after Sanchez, 44, pleaded guilty in February to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
From late 2013 to late 2017, Sanchez was the lead attorney for the Seattle ICE office when he used the agency’s database and hard files of immigration documents to acquire personal identifying information of his victims, according to court documents. This information included Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and phone numbers.
With this data, Sanchez used his government-issued computer to create counterfeit identification documents, including Social Security cards and Washington State driver’s licenses. For the males he stole information from, Sanchez put a photo of himself on the documents For the females, he used the photo of a female murder victim whose photo had been published in media reports of her death.
After Sanchez made the counterfeit identification cards, he opened lines of credit and bank accounts in his victims’ names and engaged in other schemes to hide his deeds, such as writing letters to financial institutions in his victims’ names when fraud alerts were issued.
During the time Sanchez stole identities, he was making $162,000 per year.
In a letter to the court, Sanchez said his self-hatred and loneliness caused him to commit crime, The Guardian reported.
“I pretended I needed no one and thought material things would bring me happiness, even if temporarily,” Sanchez wrote. “I created an intricate, beautiful, yet soulless house of cards that suddenly came crashing down.”