Anchorage Officer Charged With Passport Fraud
Casey Grove, Anchorage Daily News, April 23, 2011
At a news conference Friday, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said that patrolman Rafael Espinoza, on the Anchorage police force for about six years, was really Rafael Mora-Lopez, a Mexican national working in the United States illegally.
The man known as Officer Espinoza–Mora-Lopez, in reality–was an excellent employee, Police Chief Mark Mew said. The investigation has so far not turned up any information that Mora-Lopez was involved in any other criminal activity outside the case announced Friday, Mew said.
“His problem was he lied his way into the job,” Mew said.
The identity swap was discovered when the police officer applied for a U.S. passport in January and officials from the State Department found that the Rafael Espinoza identity he was using was actually another person, a U.S. citizen in the Lower 48, Loeffler said.
The state Attorney General’s office will be looking closely at cases Officer Espinoza investigated, said John Skidmore, supervisor of the department’s Special Prosecutions Unit.
Part of the ongoing investigation will look into how the Mexican national slipped through the screening process for Anchorage police officers, Mew said. For example, officers must pass a lie-detector test during the interview process, Mew said.
Wearing orange prison clothes, Mora-Lopez had tears in his eyes as court officers put him in handcuffs and led him from the room.
“I was pretty proud to serve the community,” Mora-Lopez said as he shuffled out.