Former San Diego union leader charged with embezzling dues
A former Department of Homeland Security officer and head of a labor union accused of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union he represented has been indicted in federal court in San Diego, according to prosecutors.
Felix Luciano, 60, of San Diego was arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in San Diego on charges, including wire fraud and making false statements, stemming from allegations he used money from the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2805 for his own benefit.
He was indicted by a federal grand jury and pleaded not guilty.
No defense attorney for Luciano could be reached immediately Friday.
Prosecutors said Luciano, a former enforcement removal officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was president of the labor union that represents DHS-ICE employees in San Diego and Imperial counties from 2011 through December 2018. Among his duties was to maintain the “fiscal integrity of the organization,” prosecutors said.
He retired in December 2018 when the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards was conducting an audit of Local 2805.
According to the indictment, Luciano used union dues to pay for personal expenses for himself and his wife between December 2013 and January 2019. The expenses included luxury travel, credit card payments, website design for his wife’s business, a custom gun safe, dining and groceries, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors allege that Luciano used the union’s debit and credit card to pay his personal expenses and wrote checks to himself from the union’s checking account using false descriptions like “per diem” in the memo lines.
He then concealed his actions by reporting false information on the union’s annual financial reports, prosecutors said. On a 2017 report, Luciano allegedly reported that Local 2805 had disbursed $3,068 to him, directly or indirectly, when the correct figure was more than $20,000, prosecutors said.
“When employees pay their hard-earned money into labor unions, they reasonably expect the officers of those organizations to be honest stewards of their dues,” U.S. Atty. Randy Grossman said. “Our office will work diligently to pursue justice against offenders who have allegedly stolen from their own unions at the expense of members.”
Luciano’s bond was set at $30,000. He is due back in federal court Oct. 3.
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