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Officials: Popular cop in Alaska Illegal immigrant

Posted by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:12 AM
  • 11 Replies

In this undated photo provided by the Anchorage Police Department, Rafael Mora-Lopez is shown. Mora-Lopez pleaded not guilty Friday, April 22, 2011, tAP – In this undated photo provided by the Anchorage Police Department, Rafael Mora-Lopez is shown. Mora-Lopez …

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – For years, the man known as Rafael Espinoza was widely respected as an exemplary police officer who was popular among his peers in Alaska's largest city.

All that ended this week when authorities discovered he was really Mexican national Rafael Mora-Lopez, who was in the U.S. illegally and stole another man's identity, officials charged.

"His reputation here is one of a hard-working officer, one who was very professional," Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said Friday at a news conference announcing Mora-Lopez's arrest. "The problem, obviously, is he is not Rafael Espinoza."

Soon after the announcement, Mora-Lopez appeared in U.S. District Court in Anchorage and pleaded not guilty to a charge of passport fraud, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence. At his arraignment, Mora-Lopez told a federal magistrate he is 47, even though officials listed his age as 51.

His attorney, Alan Dayan, declined to comment to The Associated Press.

Federal agents processing a renewal request for his passport discovered the alleged fraud. He was arrested Thursday after authorities searched his home and found documents confirming his true identity, officials said.

Mora-Lopez had been employed as an Anchorage police officer since 2005 under the assumed name. Police and federal prosecutors said he doesn't have a criminal record.

"We have no evidence that this individual had at the time been anything other than a good police officer," Karen Loeffler, U.S. Attorney in Alaska said.

The real Rafael Espinoza is a U.S. citizen who lives outside Alaska.

Officials said it's too soon to gauge implications of the case, such as any fallout over Mora-Lopez's court testimony in past criminal trials. Authorities released limited details, saying the case was still unfolding.

Mew said the department conducted a pre-employment criminal background check on Mora-Lopez and he also passed a polygraph test. A national fingerprint check also turned up empty.

The arrest was a "bitter pill to swallow" for many in the police department, Mew said.

There are no immediate plans to file state charges, said John Skidmore, a state attorney. He and other officials stressed that the case was still under investigation.

"At this time, we have no reason to believe, from what we know so far, that this gentleman or this officer's good work for APD has in any way been compromised or questioned," Skidmore said.

U.S. Magistrate John D. Roberts set bond at $50,000, and ordered Mora-Lopez to home-confinement and electronic monitoring. His defense attorney told the magistrate that Mora-Lopez has a wife and child in Alaska and has close ties to Anchorage, where he has lived since the late 1980s.

"He's not going anywhere," Dayan said.

The wife could not be reached by phone for comment Friday.

The passport fraud case is similar to one involving a Mexican national who took the identity of a dead cousin who was a U.S. citizen in order to become a Milwaukee police officer. Oscar Ayala-Cornejo was deported to Mexico in 2007.

by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:12 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Arroree
by Ruby Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:20 AM

We actually have a ton of illegal immigrants here in AK. Most of them are Russian and Filipino *sp* and we have a bunch from South America also, Brasil seems to be a big one for the illegals here.


There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life:
The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy
that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes,
leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable
to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

1214Choc
by Tiffany on Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:30 AM
Very interesting. I'll be keeping my eye on this case. I'd also be interested to know what kind of pre-employment background checking was done. Before I got hired at the police department, they checked EVERYTHING on me and now police departments are sending detectives to search potential employees' homes.
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emeraldangel20
by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:42 AM

interesting

iluv2meow
by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:45 AM

wth? so if they are not starving and living on the street they are criminals? ya whatever

BleedinHeartMom
by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:50 AM

So all the cases hes testified for or against, are they null and void?


denise3680
by Platinum Member on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM

OH snapsurprised

lovinangels
by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:17 PM

*shakes head*

iluv2meow
by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:40 PM

whatever, haters.... he was here to make a LIVING.

tericared
by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Not condoning stealing someones identity, but he was a good citizen...Not stealing, selling drugs, etc.....

lovinangels
by on Apr. 23, 2011 at 1:21 PM

He was here ILLEGALLY to make a living. I have a problem with that.

Quoting iluv2meow:

whatever, haters.... he was here to make a LIVING.



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