SEIU California union leader resigns over alleged tax fraud

The executive director of SEIU California, the biggest labor union in the state, is resigning after the attorney general’s office charged her and her husband with multiple counts of tax fraud, embezzlement, perjury and failure to pay unemployment insurance taxes.

The office filed its charges against Alma Hernández and her husband, Jose Moscoso, on Oct. 4 in the Sacramento County Superior Court.

Hernández, whose union represents over 700,000 workers across the state, had been in her position since 2016. She led the union’s push against recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom, with the organization donating more than $6 million to the campaign.

The investigation that led to criminal charges began in 2019 when the state’s campaign finance watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, drew attention to an allegation that Hernandez as treasurer for a 2014 state senate campaign approved spending to her husband for services he did not provide. The money did not come from an SEIU campaign finance account.

That tip led investigators from the the Attorney General’s Office to dig into Moscosco and his company, according to court documents.

Hernández was charged with two counts of grand theft and a count of perjury, for directing $11,700 from the senate campaign to Moscoso, who was supposed to provide food and drink for 80 canvassers, did not do so, according to the complaint.

Moscoso was charged with failing to pay more than $16,000 in employment taxes for his business. He also had over $300,000 in unreported wages for his employees, ultimately owing more than $80,000 to the state’s Employment Development Department, according to the complaint.

The couple was also charged with multiple counts of tax fraud for underreporting their income by about $1.4 million from 2014 to 2018.

Tia Orr, the director of government relations for the union, will be the interim executive director, according to a statement from Bob Schoonover, executive director of SEIU Local 721 and president of SEIU California State Council.

“We are deeply concerned about the allegations against Alma Hernández. We have accepted Ms. Hernández’s resignation, and we have cooperated fully with authorities on this matter and will continue to do so,” Schoonover said in a statement. “Any misuse of funds is unacceptable, and we are committed to doubling down on our efforts to ensure that all officers and staff adhere to the highest level of ethical and financial conduct.”

Hernández could not be immediately reached for comment.

This story is developing. It will be updated.

SEIU California director criminal complaint

This story was originally published October 13, 2021 11:02 AM.

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Jeong Park joined The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Bureau in 2020 as part of the paper’s community-funded Equity Lab. He covers economic inequality, focusing on how the state’s policies affect working people. Before joining the Bee, he worked as a reporter covering cities for the Orange County Register.

Read More: SEIU California union leader resigns over alleged tax fraud

2021-10-13 20:14:07

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