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Leader of California's largest union charged with tax fraud, embezzlement

They are accused of underreporting their income by $1.4 million over a period of years. It's a charge that could carry time in state prison.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The top staff member at California's largest labor union has resigned after being charged with felonies including tax fraud and embezzlement. 

The state attorney general said Wednesday he charged Alma Hernandez and her husband, Jose Moscoso, earlier this month. She was executive director of SEIU California since 2016. 

The union represents more than 700,000 workers across California.

The couple is accused of underreporting their income by $1.4 million over a period of years. It's a charge that could carry time in state prison. 

The couple allegedly owes the state more than $140,000 in unpaid income tax, according to a complaint.

Hernandez is also alleged to have misused campaign funds in 2014.

"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 trust," said Attorney General Rob Bonta in a statement. "When there is reason to believe trust has been broken and crimes have been committed, we have an ethical duty to investigate - we owe that to the people of California. Thank you to our state partners for their collaborative partnership."

Legal analyst Wendy Patrick said Thursday the charges come at a time when citizens expect an ethical tone at the top. 

"And that's important because one of the things the attorney general really emphasized and always does in a case like this, is the public trust and how important it is that they investigate any ethical complaints that might jeopardize the public being able to trust our leaders," Patrick said. 

Both Hernandez and Moscoso are charged with aggravated white-collar crime with a loss of more than $100,000, which involves a pattern of related felony behavior.

Hernandez did not respond to a Twitter message seeking comment and calls to a phone number for Hernadez and Moscoso went unanswered.

The investigation spanned multiple agencies including the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Investigation, the Employment Development Department, the Franchise Tax Board and the Fair Political Practice Commission.

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