Former Anchorage cop admits being illegal immigrant

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 01, 2011 9:58 PM
Former Anchorage cop admits being illegal immigrant

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - An illegal immigrant who served as an Anchorage police officer for six years under a fake name pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges.

Rafael Mora-Lopez, known at the Anchorage Police Department as Rafael Espinoza, entered guilty pleas to one count each of passport fraud and falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen.

Prosecutors say Mora-Lopez, 47, is a Mexican citizen who feigned U.S. citizenship.

The real Rafael Espinoza is a natural-born U.S. citizen who was a neighbor of Mora-Lopez's wife in Guadalajara in the 1980s.

The false identity was discovered after Mora-Lopez, posing as Espinoza, and the real Espinoza both filed passport applications, according to court documents.

Both Mora-Lopez and the man whose identity he used had clean, crime-free records, federal prosecutors said when they announced the indictment in April.

Mora-Lopez, who has lived in Anchorage since 1989, faces a maximum penalty of 13 years in prison when he is sentenced on August 25.

Mora-Lopez had a good record as an Anchorage police officer, despite his false identity, Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said at the time of his arrest.

He had been given an award for helping to save the life of one citizen, and was in line for additional recognition for rescuing another person, Mew said in April.

(Reporting by Yereth Rosen, Editing by Dan Whitcomb)