Ex-San Diego union leader charged with dues embezzlement

A former Department of Homeland Security officer and union leader accused of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union he represented has been charged in federal court in San Diego, prosecutors say.

Felix Luciano, 60, of San Diego, was arraigned in U.S. District Court in San Diego on Friday on charges including wire fraud and misrepresentation, stemming from allegations that he used the money of the American Federation of Local Government Employees 2805 for its own benefit.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury and pleaded not guilty.

No defense attorney for Luciano could be immediately reached on Friday.

Prosecutors said Luciano, a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent, was president of the union that represents DHS-ICE employees in San Diego and Imperial Counties from 2011 to December 2018. Among his duties included maintaining “the fiscal integrity of the organization,” prosecutors said.

He retired in December 2018 when the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards conducted an audit of Local 2805.

According to the indictment, Luciano used union dues to pay for his and his wife’s personal expenses between December 2013 and January 2019. The expenses included luxury travel, credit card payments, the design of a website for his wife’s business, a personalized gun safe, meals and groceries, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors allege Luciano used the union’s debit and credit card to pay for 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 covered up his actions by reporting false information on the union’s annual financial reports, prosecutors said. In a 2017 report, Luciano allegedly reported that Local 2805 paid him $3,068, either directly or indirectly, when the correct figure was over $20,000, prosecutors said.

“When employees pay their hard-earned money to unions, they reasonably expect the leaders of those organizations to be honest stewards of their dues,” US Atty said. said Randy Grossman. “Our office will work diligently to prosecute offenders who allegedly robbed their own unions at the expense of members.”

Luciano’s bail was set at $30,000. He is due back in federal court on October 3.

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