Mora-Lopez Sentenced to Three Months in Prison, $10,000 Fine

A man in an unusual case of identity theft was sentenced in federal court in Anchorage Thursday. Rafael Mora-Lopez had lived in Anchorage for more than two decades as Rafael Alberto Espinoza.

Mora-Lopez had been a police officer in Anchorage for six years before he was arrested in April for living in the U.S. illegally under a stolen identity. Tom Bradley is an assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division of the Anchorage office. Mora-Lopez had faced a maximum sentence of 13 years and $250,000 in fines. Bradley says Thursday’s sentence of three months in federal prison and a $10,000 fine is fair.

Bradley says Mora-Lopez will be sent to a facility outside of Alaska because there are no federal prisons in the state. After he completes his sentence, he could be deported, but Bradley says he can appear before an immigration judge to seek permission to stay.

Bradley says it’s very unusual for someone who has committed identity theft to go into a high profile position such as a police officer.

Mora-Lopez had pleaded guilty in June to passport fraud and false claims of U.S. citizenship.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori