Terence J. “TJ” Bonner, the former president of the union representing Border Patrol agents, was indicted Aug. 16 on 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. (Federal Times)
Terence J. “TJ” Bonner, the former president of the union representing Border Patrol agents, was indicted Aug. 16 on 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Bonner, who was president of the National Border Patrol Council, allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds for his own use, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California said.
According to prosecutors and the grand jury indictment, Bonner:
Sought and obtained payment for supposed union-related work and travel that was actually personal — taking vacations, going to hockey games and other sporting events, and visiting family members or his mistress in Chicago.
Used his power as union president to enact unusual policies that benefited him and other union officials, such as reimbursement for clothing expenses and up to $800 a year — from union funds — to buy gifts and meals for relatives and their spouses, significant others, or children.
Submitted false “lost wages” claims for time when he wasn’t working. Instead, the indictment said, Bonner was downloading, viewing and archiving pornography.
Obtained reimbursement for dozens of hard drives used to store pornography.
Bonner, in a statement to Federal Times, maintained his innocence and said the government is retaliating against him for criticizing faulty border security policies. He said his claims for reimbursement were proper and saved taxpayers and union members tens of thousands of dollars, and said the indictment uses “smear tactics” about his personal life.
“The charges are groundless,” Bonner said. “They have been trumped up by a politically bankrupt bureaucracy that has failed to execute its statutory mission. When justice is done, this case will result in my exoneration.”
If convicted on all charges, Bonner faces a maximum 225 years in jail.
In a statement posted online, the National Border Patrol Council, part of the American Federation of Government Employees, said its executive committee first learned about the investigation in April 2010, and soon afterwards asked Bonner to step down while the grand jury investigation was under way.
The union said Bonner refused to step down, and unsuccessfully fought his removal.
“Clearly, this is a black eye for the NBPC, and the executive committee apologizes to all of our members for not being able to discuss this matter earlier due to the U.S. Attorney’s investigation,” the council said. “The NBPC is confident that justice will be served and hopes to recover any funds misappropriated by Bonner.”