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SAN DIEGO (AP/ CBS 8) —The former head of the Border Patrol union is denying allegations that he funneled money from the organization to spend on trips visiting his alleged mistress, downloading pornography, and attending sports games.
In an interview with News 8 on Friday night, T.J. Bonner declared his innocence.
"I have been framed by the administration. This is a clear cut case of retaliation," he said. "The people who know me best know I did not steal a penny from the government or from the union... It's clearly a political witch hunt."
Bonner, who retired from the union's top job last year, was indicted Thursday on 12 federal counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The 59-year-old is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Monday.
During his 22 years at the National Border Patrol Council, Bonner was a fixture on cable television and in congressional hearings. He was highly sought by reporters for his pithy commentaries on border security.
So it was not uncommon for him to seek reimbursements, some in the form of expense claims and others as premium pay for working overtime. The problem, federal prosecutors say, was that he claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal reasons, such as visiting his mistress in Chicago and downloading pornography at home on hard drives purchased for the union.
Prosecutors say he submitted expense vouchers for meals, car rentals, luggage, books and other union-related activities when he was traveling for personal reasons.
"Siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from hard-working Border Patrol agents, many of whom put their lives on the line every day to protect this country, is a particularly troubling form of corruption that must be addressed," said Laura Duffy, the U.S. attorney in San Diego.
Bonner called the indictment "an ineffectual wild goose chase" in a statement Friday that detailed his long history of criticizing the federal government's record on border security. He insisted he is owed more than $100,000 for his time and expenses.
"The indictment is based on a deliberate misreading of highly technical regulations relating to reimbursement. It uses smear tactics about my personal life to distract from a central truth that will be established: I never cheated the government nor members of the union of a penny during my two decades of service," he said.SAN DIEGO (AP/ CBS 8) —The former head of the Border Patrol union is denying... more
9 months ago