California labor officer charged with embezzlement, tax evasion

The California Attorney General’s Office has filed felony charges against the executive director of the state’s largest labor union, alleging that an investigation into possible campaign finance violations revealed that Alma Hernandez and her husband evaded taxes. Understated its income for more than $1.4 million.

Hernandez resigned as executive director of the California State Council of Service Employees International Union, ending his 11-year term leading the 700,000-member organization’s advocacy work at the state capitol, where it was ranked among the most powerful political forces in politics. considered one of the

“Working people deserve leaders they can depend on to help them achieve these goals at the bargaining table and through political advocacy, but also leaders they can count on. “Atty. General Rob Bonta said. “When there is reason to believe that trust has been broken and crimes have been committed, it is our moral duty to investigate – we are indebted to the people of California.”

An attorney for Hernandez and her husband, Jose Samoa Moscoso, disputed the charges filed in a criminal complaint this month.

Attorney Jeffrey Tsai said, “We disagree with the allegations in this case, and they misrepresent true facts reflecting his hard work to build an honest life for himself and his family.” “I cannot otherwise comment on any legal matter relating to Ms. Hernandez and Mr. Samio” [Moscoso]. But charges are not evidence in any court case, and in a criminal case every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. ”

Named one of Capital Weekly’s Top 100 California Politicians, Hernandez is a veteran political operative who helped activate an army of SEIU volunteers to fight the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom last month.

SEIU California President Bob Schoonover said the organization is deeply concerned about the allegations and will continue to cooperate fully with officials.

“Any misuse of funds is unacceptable, and we are committed to redouble our efforts to ensure that all officers and employees adhere to the highest standards of ethical and financial conduct,” he said.

Hernandez faces two serious counts of grand theft involving two payments of $7,200 and $4,500 to Moscoso from the SEIU-sponsored Political Action Committee, and is charged with perjury for declaring payments on a campaign form. . The attorney general’s office alleged in court documents that Moscoso never paid for food and drink during campaign events leading up to the 2014 general election.

Officials charged Hernandez and Moscoso with five counts of tax evasion, for allegedly failing to report $1.4 million in income on their tax returns from 2014 to 2018, totaling $143,000 in unpaid taxes. According to the attorney general’s office, Moscoso is also accused of paying employees of his air duct cleaning business under the table and of filing quarterly reports with the Department of Employment Development and paying more than $16,000 in employment taxes. have failed.

Court documents say the state Justice Department’s investigation began in March 2019, when the California Fair Political Practice Commission contacted the attorney general’s Financial Fraud and Special Prosecution Section.

The FPPC – which investigates and regulates campaign funding, conflicts of interest, lobbying and government ethics – is a political action committee funded by labor unions to support Democrat Jose Solorio’s failed state Senate campaign against Republican Janet Nguyen in 2014. discovered suspicious payments to Moscoso. for court records. As treasurer of the committee, Hernandez reportedly deposited and distributed the payments.

The Attorney General’s office obtained a search warrant for the couple’s bank records and interviewed them at their Glendale home in late June 2019. Officials allege that Moscoso “confessed to being an air duct cleaner and not attending food vending services” and said he did not. Identify invoices.

The state alleges that Hernandez said the paid campaigns were to feed volunteers, although the volunteers interviewed said that “they never saw food-vending services.”

Multiple search warrants were obtained for the couple’s personal and business bank accounts and the records were audited by the Justice Department and reviewed by agents from the Franchise Tax Board, who said they had collected deposits and receipts and the couple’s income tax. The alleged discrepancies between the returns were discovered.

According to court records, the Justice Department in October 2020 collected US Internal Revenue Service documents, tax records, invoices, checkbooks, computers, cellphones and other information at the couple’s home, their business and their tax preparer’s office. Search warrant executed. EDD investigators also found evidence that they allege that Moscoso failed to file reports, pay unemployment insurance and disability insurance to the agency.

According to court records, “at the end of the FTB investigation, the results showed that Hernandez and Moscoso underreported income and tax delinquencies for the years 2014 to 2018.”

All charges against Hernandez and Moscoso are felonies, and the Justice Department is treating the case as an aggravated white-collar crime.

According to the attorney general’s office, the couple could be ordered to pay more than $700,000 in restitution and fines and face potential prison time if convicted.

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