Former Anchorage Police Officer Sentenced For Passport Fraud And Making False Claim To United States Citizenship
August 29, 2011
On August 25, 2011, Rafael Mora-Lopez, 47, a resident of Anchorage, Alaska, was sentenced by United States District Judge Timothy M. Burgess.
According to documents filed in court, Mora-Lopez assumed the identity of Rafael Espinoza, a United States citizen, in the late 1980s. On June 30, 1989, he applied for an Alaska driver’s license using the name, birth date, and social security number belonging to victim Rafael A. Espinoza. The defendant presented a birth certificate and social security card in the Espinoza name as evidence of identification, and falsely claimed that he was a citizen of the United States. In fact, the defendant was a citizen of Mexico, was in the United States illegally, and had assumed the identity of the victim, a natural-born citizen of the United States.
On May 28, 1991, the defendant applied for and obtained a U.S. Passport in the victim’s name, again falsely using the victim’s date of birth and social security number, and falsely claiming to be a U.S. Citizen. The passport was renewed on February 28, 2001. When the defendant applied for another renewal on January 14, 2011, the Department of State noted that another individual appeared to have a passport in that identity as well. Investigation by special agents of the Diplomatic Security Service revealed that the individual in Alaska was an imposter.
A search of records maintained by the Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles revealed that the defendant applied for a license in the victim’s name on April 25, 2010, in which he falsely claimed to be a citizen of the United States. Between 1991 and 2011, the defendant repeatedly used the victim’s identity to apply for and renew drivers licenses, to register to vote, and to vote in local and national elections. He also applied for Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, obtaining over $27,000 in dividends to which he was not entitled. In the 1990s, he used his false citizenship and identity to being his girlfriend to Alaska, married her, and assisted in obtaining her naturalization as a U.S. citizen based on her marriage to him as a citizen. On May 15, 1998, the defendant filed a petition under Chapter 7 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Alaska, seeking to discharge nearly $300,000 in debts. A final decree was entered in November 1998.
In 2005, the defendant was hired as a police officer by the Anchorage Police Department. He applied using the victim’s identity. As the victim has no criminal history, the defendant was able to pass a background investigation. As an illegal alien, he was not permitted to hold any form of employment in the United States. The Anchorage Police Department requires either U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency for employment as a police officer.
After the defendant was identified as an imposter, he was confronted by APD detectives and readily admitted his identity. A search warrant was executed at his residence, and documents establishing his true identity were located. The defendant was then arrested by special agents of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on a federal warrant charging him with passport fraud. The defendant repeated the admissions as to his true identity to Agents of Homeland Security Investigations.
The case was investigated by the United States Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service; the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations; and the Anchorage Police Department.
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