HOUSTON — A former police union president is accused by union leadership of violating his oath of office by going on a years-long spending spree that ultimately wiped the union bank account dry.
Jose Robert Lozano Jr. was president of the Houston METRO Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 98 until 2019. Under his watch, bank statements reveal thousands of dollars in expenses unrelated to union activities. They include a $1,994 Caribbean cruise, $224 in charges at beach bars in Cozumel and Belize, $769 in movie grill tabs here in Houston and $1,600 spent on Houston Rockets tickets.
“Just complete shock,” current FOP President Robert Smith said.
After Smith took office in 2019, he said he began going through the FOP bank records and discovered the account had a negative balance — it was $81 in the red.
“There should have been tens of thousands of dollars in there,” Smith said. “Gone, everything was gone.”
From 2015 to 2019, bank records show Lozano racked up $17,000 in ATM withdrawals using his FOP-issued card and $27,000 in Walmart money cards. There were also $200,000 in electronic payments to an American Express card during that time. Smith said the FOP never had an AMEX card.
“There’s no excuse for that,” Smith said. “We believe the money was used for his personal gain.”
It wasn’t just money from dues by Houston METRO police officers. Records show Lozano was president of a fundraising company, RG Benefits Inc., that solicited money for FOP programs to help needy kids. According to a signed agreement, RG Benefits kept 75% of those donations and the rest went to the general FOP account that was bled dry.
“It’s not right,” Johnette Helton said.
Helton’s family remodeling business donated a few hundred dollars a few years in a row, thinking it was all going to a good cause.
“It’s taking something that doesn’t belong to you is what it is,” Helton said. “That’s infuriating.”
“Everyone that donated money, all the goodness of their heart, everyone who cares about their community, everyone who cares about law enforcement, they were betrayed,” Smith said.
Smith served as treasurer under then-FOP president Lozano but said he was never allowed access to the account.
“I wasn’t allowed to know what was going on, the only thing I was authorized to do was write checks to the people I was told to write checks to,” Smith said.
After he was elected president, Smith asked the Houston Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police Texas State Lodge to investigate. Along with the unexplained bank statement charges, he said Lozano’s fundraising company continued to solicit donations after he left office, but the FOP never saw that money. In a November 2019 letter, the state FOP wrote Lozano violated his oath of office by using his authority for personal gain, and that he was unable to account for over $70,00 in business expenses during 2015.
“Robert Lozano was presented with the opportunity to present his side to defend himself,” said Thomas Hayes, the first vice president and grievance committee chairman of the FOP Texas State Lodge. “He did not present any evidence to dismiss the allegations.”
When approached by KHOU 11 Investigates, Lozano referred questions to his attorney. Stephen St. Martin said his client did nothing wrong and claimed he has been “cleared” by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
A spokesman for District Attorney Kim Ogg declined to comment on the status of the criminal investigation, which records show began more than a year and a half ago. Lozano has not been arrested or charged with anything in connection with the alleged expenditures.
Smith said he hasn’t heard from prosecutors in months.
“We still don’t know what’s going on, where they’re at, we don’t know anything,” Smith said.
Lozano is currently a peace officer with another agency, the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Office. Records also show he’s started a charity called the Houston Metro Area Police Foundation.