Popular Alaska Cop Rafael Espinoza Outed as Undocumented Mexican Immigrant
For years, officer Rafael Espinoza has been a highly respected member of the Anchorage, Alaska police force. “His reputation here is one of a hard-working officer… very professional,” his chief, Mark Mew, said. “The problem… is he is not Rafael Espinoza.”
Turns out that Rafael Espinoza is really Rafael Mora-Lopez, a 47-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico who has been in the United States illegally since the 1980s. According to the Associated Press, federal agents processing Espinoza’s– I mean Mora-Lopez’s– passport renewal discovered the monumental ruse and alerted local authorities to the fraud. The six-year veteran officer was then arrested and appeared in US District Court in Anchorage where he plead not guilty to passport fraud, which could land him in prison for up to ten years if he’s convicted.
Mora-Lopez’s subterfuge is remarkable considering that police officers must pass stringent background checks as well as a lie detector exam. The identity thief (the real Rafael Espinoza is a US citizen) passed them both with flying colors. “We have no evidence that this individual had at the time been anything other than a good police officer,” US Attorney Karen Loeffler said.
Mora-Lopez, who is married and has a child in Alaska, was released on a $50,000 bond and is under house arrest pending trial.
Incredibly, this isn’t the first time this has happened. According to the Associated Press, Mexican national Oscar Ayala-Cornejo assumed the identity of his dead cousin, a US citizen, and became a Milwaukee police officer before being deported in 2007.
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