A former prosecutor for Immigration and Customs Enforcement is accused of forging court documents in a case that involved the deportation of a Mexican construction worker. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating whether criminal charges can be brought upon the former prosecutor. A 2014 civil-rights lawsuit by Ignacio Lanuza has shed light on the investigation of former ICE prosecutor, Jonat Love. Love is accused of misconduct in Lanuza’s case in Immigration Court. ICE deals with immigration and refugee issues and is monitored by the Department of Justice.
Attorneys from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, who represent Lanuza, said “This case presents the issue of whether a federal official may … be held accountable for indisputably corrupt actions taken in order to strip a noncitizen of his right to a full and fair hearing in immigration proceedings.”
The suit argues that, “[Lanuza] suffered through almost five years of unwarranted, expensive, and traumatic immigration proceedings as a result of a crude forgery on the part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” Lanuza claims that he was deprived of due process by Love. Lanuza is requesting $500,000 in damages for Love’s alleged misconduct.
Before the lawsuit against Love was opened, Lanuza was supposed to be deported to Mexico. As a result of the allegations and the pending lawsuit, Lanuza was given legal permanent resident status in the U.S. last year. Marsha Pechman, a U.S. District Judge, has stayed all proceedings in Lanuza’s civil lawsuit until a verdict is made on Love’s case involving federal prosecutors.
Lanuza was first brought to the attention of ICE following an arrest made while he was at a party for holding a handgun. The handgun was found to be stolen and he was eventually arrested for the possession of a stolen firearm and he was booked in the King County Jail. At the jail, he allegedly admitted to being in the country illegally. He pleaded guilty to a charge of illegally carrying a firearm with the intent to intimidate.
Lanuza claimed that he could not remember signing an I-826 form that Love had presented in trial. It was later found that Love had forged Lanuza’s signature on the form.
They’ve cited, “the seriousness and particularity of the allegations provided evidence indicating that the [I-826] submitted by the [Department of Homeland Security] may not be a complete and accurate document anachronisms and other hallmarks which may suggest document tampering.”
Pechman ruled that Love cannot be held civilly responsible for his actions. As a result Lanuza has filed an appeal with the 9th circuit.