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Wanted: Reporter to dig up dirt on illegal immigrant cop

Patti Epler

A conservative website is looking for an "investigative reporter" to delve into the circumstances that allowed an illegal immigrant to work as an Anchorage cop. In a craigslist.com job posting, the website JJChronicles.com says it will pay $300 for someone to find out what shortcomings were involved in local, state and federal agencies that resulted in Rafael Mora-Lopez being hired by the Anchorage Police Department in 2005 using the name of Rafael Espinoza, a U.S. citizen whose identity he'd taken over in the 1980s.

Mora-Lopez, 47, was a successful and well-liked APD officer who had worked as a bus driver before becoming a cop. Married and the father of one child, he pleaded guilty on June 1 to federal charges of passport fraud and falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen. Sentencing has been set for Aug. 25 and he faces up to 13 years in federal prison.

JJChronicles.com seems to have little interest, however, in what could be a fascinating story of one family's efforts to make a new life in the U.S. and how they worked around immigration policy and through government bureaucracy. Mora-Lopez parlayed his new identity into a pretty good vision of the American Dream: he married his wife who became a naturalized citizen, had decent jobs at which he thrived, bought a nice home in East Anchorage, and even collected $27,000 in Permanent Fund Dividends over the years. Even the federal judge and prosecutors recognized his character and have allowed him to remain out of jail, albeit with electronic monitoring, pending his sentencing.

The job posting seeks someone to target the police department, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, even the state elections agency and city assessor's office to find out how "the thief," as JJChronicles continually refers to Mora-Lopez , managed to pull off a public deception of such magnitude. How did he get a driver's license. Didn’t the DMV check his Social Security number? Why didn’t the APD ferret him out? Did he pay his taxes?

No one from JJChronicles, a website that itself blocks its ownership identity through a blind domain company, responded to an email request to comment for this story. But most of the questions seem to be the same ones the agencies have been asking themselves for months. JJChronicles wants the project wrapped up in three weeks.

Contact Patti Epler at patti(at)alaskadispatch.com.