back to article Former ICE top lawyer raided US govt database to steal aliens' identities

Yet again an insider has been caught misusing a workplace computer system to conduct identity theft and fraud. Unusually, the perp was, at the time, serving as the head lawyer for the US government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) at the time. And rather than turning to the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Power corrupts.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        power attracts the corruptible.

        And in the case of US law enforcement, it's not just "one bad actor". There's a systemic problem.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lawyer jokes

    Let the deluge of lawyer jokes begin. Although in this case it would appear deserved.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Lawyer jokes

      But how many lawyer jokes are there?

      Only one; the rest are true stories.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Tell me again how this vaunted back door won't be harmful because you can trust governments to keep your data safe.

    1. Richard Jones 1

      @Doctor Syntax

      This was not a back door job, this was a cart and horses through the front door, back door and every window job using 'good' old fashioned fraud and timings manipulation. In a single way he was a great example, in the end he got one thing right and became an honest lawyer - by pleading guilty to his criminal behaviour.

      In the end it was another great example of the quality of Government recruitment and vetting.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: @Doctor Syntax

        The point being, he would have had access to the proposed backdoors to communication... It comes down to trust and he has just proved, that you can't trust the federal government as far as you can throw it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Doctor Syntax

        The Bureaucracy itself has become the all-encompassing, self-serving monstrosity, and the unconstitutional fourth branch of the United States Federal Government. Of all Peoples, I would have expected the Brits to have seen this peril!

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: @Doctor Syntax

        "In the end it was another great example of the quality of Government recruitment and vetting"

        And exactly the sort of failure to be expected again* should govts get their wishes about back doors.

        And probably again and again and again.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: @Doctor Syntax

        "In the end he got one thing right and became an honest lawyer - by pleading guilty to his criminal behaviour."

        This is the USA we're talking about. It was plea-bargained and negotiated _down_ to 7 counts of ID theft from whatever they could have reasonably stomped all over him with in court, plus whatever else they were threatening to throw and see what stuck.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given the level of trust given to him and expected of him due to his position he should spend the rest of his expected working life in jail, until 65; be stripped of all assets, which should be used to pay back those he stole from; and never be allowed to practice law anywhere or hold a Professional certification.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      That seems harsh. Just hang him upside down at the low tide line for a couple of days...

      Seriously - identity theft penalties don't seem to be high enough anywhere. I'm not usually an advocate of long jail sentences, but this kind of thing doesn't seem to be sufficiently punished. Perhaps a recommendation for four years could turn into eight or ten?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I agree. I'm not usually a proponent of a harsh sentences, but people in a position of trust need to live up to that. Crimes by people in positions of trust, including Politicians, need to prosecuted more harshly and they need to spend time in regular jails, in general population.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What a stupid idea

          Long jail sentences for a crime like this costs a lot and puts pressure on sentences for other crimes to become longer because "why did this armed robber get only 10 years when this identity thief got 20?"

          I'd rather sentence people like him to public service. Let the government pay (the much lower cost) for modest accommodations, food, etc. instead of housing him in jail, and let him choose - subject to the court's approval - a charity to volunteer at for a decade. If he stops showing up for 'work' or otherwise screws up, then sure put him in jail. Maybe he can do some good to make up for his crimes instead. Maybe in some cases the charity can start 'paying' him a salary (which would go to the government to pay for his living expenses)

          He's not doing anyone any good sitting in jail, but volunteering at the ASPCA or homeless shelter or VA hospital or something he could be. This would make sense for a lot of non violent crimes, but provide a perfect example of why corporate run prisons are a terrible idea. They grease the legislators, who make sentences longer to keep the jails full, and insure more prisons are needed. No wonder we have the highest incarceration rate in the world here in the US! Let's fill the prisons with rapists and murderers, not identity thieves.

          1. Sabot

            Re: What a stupid idea

            Let him loose on veterans or the homeless? Surely he wouldn't prey on them. Do not forget he did not "just" steal identities, he stole money, and caused real damage to his victims. They could not afford food, a decent lawyer, a home or whatever. That sounds violent enough to me.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What a stupid idea

              He wouldn't prey on them because he'd know he was being watched carefully due to his probationary status, and the disincentive for doing it anyway would be a stint in prison with the aforementioned rapists and murderers.

              If one becomes overly concerned with "what if they reoffend" why not give every criminal a life sentence? (nevermind that more than a few have run successful financial scams from inside prison...) And if you're going to hand out life sentences, you may as well hand out death sentences, to be absolutely sure they don't reoffend. That's what Ellen Ripley would do.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: What a stupid idea

            "I'd rather sentence people like him to public service."

            Given the circumstances of his original crime that would appear to be handing him further opportunities.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm only here because of the Grand theft auto graphic.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Jamesit

    "Raphael Sanchez betrayed that solemn responsibility and abused his official position to prey upon aliens for his own personal gain," said Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan in a statement, adding that we should not let one bad actor mar the work of ICE – which generally involves rounding up undocumented aliens and booting them from the US.

    ICE is already doing a great job of that. Including young girls after surgery, defendants after a trial and DACA recipients showing up at their immigration meetings.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok, but 'why' though?

    Sounds like classic Fraudster / IDentity-Theft. But why would an insider / lawyer do this or take on the risk. What's the motivation behind all of this?

    Presumably they were comfortably well off at some point. So what happened? Bad bet on the markets / gambling debts. Doesn't add up!

    What it does confirm of course is: Juicy ID databases in the hands of government or their contractors with a 'trust us' sticker, is worth fuck all!

    1. Snowy

      Re: Ok, but 'why' though?

      Why you ask could be the greedy can never have enough!

      1. Mephistro

        Re: Ok, but 'why' though?

        "Why you ask could be the greedy sociopaths can never have enough!"

        Here, fixed!

        Seriously now, if a lawyer with such an important station starts stealing from the poor and destitute, he deserves to spend those four years hanging from a wall in his cell, head down!

        Ditto about those billionaires that do similar things in a more legal-ish way, but with the same ethical subtext. Conscience? Yeah, they have heard of it!

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Ok, but 'why' though?

          "Conscience? Yeah, they have heard of it!"

          Not convinced.

  9. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Fox in the Hen House

    This highlights a problem for all. If a sociopath thinks they can abuse the system because of their position they will try. Just hope you are in the target area. More damage is done by insiders than by hackers.

    Also, how was he caught? It sounds like his money laundering techniques were amateurish enough that a fraud detection system/person got suspicious. I wonder if the transaction patterns looked different from that of a true retailer. Something that he might not have considered as he might not have ever worked in retail.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Build that wall

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thanks for the reminder, I've been meaning to sort the garden out before Spring.

    2. lglethal Silver badge

      "Build that wall"

      Around the ICE? Sounds like a good idea.

      Or maybe build one around Washington DC instead and protect the rest of the US from "the swamp" there... (for some reason Images from "Escape from L.A." are passing through my mind...)

      1. Agamemnon

        Surely you mean "Escape From New York". "Escape From LA" was the awful sequel.

        "I thought you were dead." - Everyone

        "I get that a lot" - Snake Bliskin

        1. lglethal Silver badge

          I'm aware LA was the awful sequel, but that seems to me more appropriate for DC...

  11. WonkoTheSane
    Thumb Up

    For poetic justice

    Deport him.

    1. Twanky Silver badge

      Re: For poetic justice

      I like the idea. Only problem is: to where? Perhaps establishing a penal colony somewhere (say, Cuba) might be in order?

      1. WonkoTheSane

        Re: For poetic justice

        Nah. Just revoke his citizenship, so he has to spend the rest of his life living in an airport.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Especially convenient

    To prey upon victims who fear the law.

  13. hellwig

    "The Government" is composed of regular people.

    "The Government" wonders why we don't want them snooping around in our private details, installing backdoors, monitoring everything we do.

    While the concept of a moral, benign "government" might seem nice, it's pure fantasy. The Government, at all levels, is staffed by normal a-holes like anything else. Even if you think a top-level official is above reproach (HAH!), the actual work gets done by underpaid morons. Think about every individual you have to give personal information to (clerks at just about any government office). It's not even just the government, think about medical professionals. When was the last time an MD asked for your personal information (potentially including social security number)? It was probably some untrained clerk working the reception desk.

    Trust no one, and you'll never be surprised.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You forgot to mention the fact that he was re-stealing the identities that the illegals stole first. Still a crime, but you insinuated that he was hurting the illegals, but in truth he was hurting innocent American citizens.

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