A retired president of the National Border Patrol Council is speaking out about an indictment that accuses him of misusing union funds.
Campo resident Terence "TJ" Bonner, 59, is accused of allegedly diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds for his own personal use.
The indictment alleges Bonner made personal trips to visit his mistress in Chicago and attended sporting events using union funds. According to the indictment allegations, Bonner submitted expense vouchers seeking reimbursement for travel expenses such as meals, car rentals, tips, luggage and books when he was traveling for personal reasons, including vacations and other non-union activities.
The indictment also accuses him of purchasing computer hard drives to store pornography and other inappropriate material, and then submitting vouchers for reimbursement.
Per the indictment, charges against Bonner include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and forfeiture of ill-gotten gains in connection with a scheme to defraud some 14,000 dues-paying union members.
Bonner held his position on the National Border Patrol Council for more than 20 years and said he has always been an outspoken critic of the government’s border policy.
He told NBC 7 San Diego he believes that’s the real reason he is facing federal charges.
Bonner denies the indictment allegations and claims he’s being unfairly targeted for speaking his mind.
“I think they're trumped up. They're clearly seeking political retribution for my outspokenness, being a critic of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administration policies on illegal immigration,” said Bonner.
“It will be shown that all of my claims were legitimate. The government owes me a lot of money; the union owes me a lot of money,” he continued.
After 30 years as a Border Patrol agent and more than 20 years as president of the union, he’s dismayed by the indictment.
“I feel betrayed by the government that I served so well for so many years. It's an absolute betrayal,” said Bonner.
Bonner also released this statement following the indictment:
“I am completely innocent. The charges are groundless. 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."
NBC 7 San Diego spoke to Bonner’s wife Thursday night, but she did not want to appear on camera. She told NBC 7 she is standing by her husband and also believes he is innocent.
Bonner will appear in court on Aug. 20.