A former leader of a union representing Border Patrol workers has called accusations that he illegally used union funds for personal expenses a targeted retaliation against his criticism of the government’s border security, according to the Associated Press.
Terrence J. Bonner, who headed the National Border Patrol Council from 1989 until 2011, was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego Thursday for allegedly submitting expense vouchers for nonunion-related purchases and activities, such as visiting his mistress, attending sporting events and time spent downloading pornography. All told, Bonner is charged with siphoning “hundreds of thousands” of dollars from the union.
Bonner, in an interview with AP, denied all charges.
"[The federal government] will continue lying to the American people about the security of our borders, an honest man's reputation will be destroyed and millions of tax dollars will be wasted in an ineffectual wild goose chase," he said.
He added he is still owed more than $100,000 for expenses he submitted in 2009 and was never reimbursed.
Bonner was an outspoken president, consistently advocating for better working conditions and railing against U.S. border security policy.
The union is not standing behind its former leader; it refused to pay for Bonner’s attorney, AP reported. Officials maintained Bonner’s actions were unique and there is no evidence of corruption at any other level of the organization.
"Obviously this is going to be a black eye on our organization, said George McCubbin, the current president of the National Border Patrol Council and Bonner’s successor. “For years, we were always above any of this,” he told AP. “It's clear this is an isolated incident. There are no other union officers involved. This is strictly on T.J."
The indictment also accused the union’s former secretary-treasurer, who approved all of Bonner’s expenses and whose identity has not been released, of wrongdoing.
The union represents 14,000 Border Patrol agents and is a part of the American Federation of Government Employees.