County prosecutors alleged in court this week that a supervisor in the Department of Justice getting carbon copied on an email led to the uncovering of an embezzlement scheme that cost taxpayers more than $80,000.
One of two men charged for running businesses with a Valencia address that allegedly bilked the Department of Justice out of more than $85,000 pleaded not guilty Wednesday to several felony counts.
The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office announced a four-count indictment against former DOJ employees Eric Bunde, 55, and James Biscailuz, 54, who ran EJB Consulting and Tactical Force Gear, respectively, according to court documents.
Each man is facing three felony charges.
A criminal complaint filed Jan. 5 notes that, in 2017, Bunde was a special agent in charge and director of the Los Angeles Regional Criminal Information Clearinghouse, also known as LA CLEAR.
While running LA CLEAR, Bunde contracted with Tactical Force Gear, an embroidery company registered to James Biscailuz, another special agent in charge, for “social media services” — which Bunde then subcontracted through EJB Consulting, for $12,500, according to the complaint. Bunde also allegedly arranged the purchase of more than $73,000 in merchandise from Tactical Force Gear.
Google searches of both businesses still list them as having the same address in the 29400 block of Avenue Stanford in Valencia, as of Thursday. A phone number listed for TFG has been disconnected, and the location currently is occupied by an unrelated film production company.
The alleged fraud was uncovered by the current director of LA CLEAR, DOJ Special Agent in Charge Brian Rose, more than three years ago, according to the DA’s office.
“On Aug. 8, 2019, DOJ SAC Brian Rose became suspicious of the financial activity between Eric Bunde and DOJ Special Agent in Charge James Biscailuz when he was CC’ed on an email from LA CLEAR Training Coordinator Ken Cordray indicating that James Biscailuz was issued a laptop from LA CLEAR, even though he had not been assigned to LA CLEAR,” the complaint states.
LA CLEAR is described on its site as a support system that offers resources to a network of more than 200 law enforcement agencies, which uses federal funds to fight crime in what are known as High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.
“LA CLEAR is a tactical and strategic intelligence operation that, by design, does not conduct independent investigations,” according to its website, “but rather supports (the) needs of the investigator and their home agency or task force in criminal investigations.”
A representative from the Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The complaint states Rose began to review LA CLEAR’s financial records and reported that from Jan. 8, 2014, to Nov. 13, 2017, Bunde authorized the purchases from Tactical Force Gear.
The case was assigned to a DOJ special agent in charge to investigate on Sept. 12, 2019.
“Subsequent investigation revealed that, until Dec. 7, 2017, Eric Bunde was the director of LA CLEAR and was the boss of everyone working at LA CLEAR,” the complaint states. “By invoicing Tactical Force Gear, Bunde was able to hide that he was really the one providing social media services to LA CLEAR.”
Both Biscailuz and Bunde face one felony count each of grand theft by embezzlement and grand theft by an employee.
Biscailuz also stands charged with one felony count of perjury, for not disclosing his ownership of Tactical Force Gear in a Fair Political Practices Commission Form 700. Bunde also is facing a felony conflict of interest charge for his alleged role.
Biscailuz is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 18.