Ex-Border Patrol Union Leader Misused Funds: Attorney

A retired president of the National Border Patrol Council has been indicted on federal charges after being accused of allegedly using hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds for personal use, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Campo resident Terence Bonner, 59, allegedly diverted thousands of dollars in union funds for personal use.

The indictment accuses Bonner of using union dues while he was in charge to do things such as visit his mistress in Chicago or attend hockey games and other sporting events.

He held his position for more than 20 years.

Charges 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.

In addition, the indictment alleges that Bonner submitted expense vouchers seeking reimbursement for union-related travel expenses such as meals, car rentals, tips, luggage, books and magazines -- when he was traveling for personal reasons, including vacations and other non-union activity.

According to the indictment, Bonner used his position to enact a number of unusual policies to benefit himself and other union officials, such as reimbursement for clothing expenses and up to $800 a year for gifts.

During his tenure, Bonner initiated a policy requiring the union to pay premium rates for work completed on Sundays, holidays and night shifts. But the indictment states Bonner allegedly submitted false claims for “lost wages,” including “seeking ‘lost wages’ for time frames when he was not working on union activities but at home, downloading, viewing and archiving” inappropriate material.

He also allegedly submitted and obtained reimbursement for dozens of hard drives used to store the inappropriate material on his computer.

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 believes he is innocent.

For others, sticking by Bonner may not be an option.

For 22 years, Bonner was highly trusted by many as president of the National Border Patrol Council. However, according to current president George McCubbin, that trust is now gone.

McCubbin said the investigation into Bonner began about two years ago, after government officials found unusual activity with his travel vouchers.

“He always claimed that he was doing union business when in reality it was private business,” said McCubbin.

McCubbin said Bonner claimed he didn’t do anything wrong and that the indictment was “all just a fishing expedition.”

However, McCubbin is not convinced.

He said the union travel reimbursement system has been overhauled to prevent this from happening again.

“We're going to talk to an attorney and see what we can recoup -- some of the funds, if not all of them,” added McCubbin.

Bonner responded to his indictment with the following statement:
“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."

Bonner will appear in court on Aug. 20.

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