By on August 19, 2017

FCA sign, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Federal prosecutors charged a fourth player in the widening United Auto Workers-Fiat Chrysler Automobiles corruption scandal on Friday, providing a clearer picture of how the years-long conspiracy went down.

Virdell King, a former senior UAW official and the first black woman to head a UAW-FCA local, now faces the same charges as three others indicted in the $4.5 million money-funnelling scheme. King, who retired in 2016, served on the board of the scandal-plagued UAW-Chrysler National Training Center — a facility prosecutors claim acted as a money pit for the enrichment of FCA and UAW execs.

In a document filed in U.S. District court in Detroit yesterday, prosecutors allege former FCA vice president Alphons Iacobelli opened the cash taps to UAW brass in an attempt to bribe them into taking “company-friendly positions.” The training center’s funds, earmarked for autoworkers, served as the bank. NTC credit cards apparently made making the lavish purchases a breeze.

“If you see something you want, feel free to buy it,” Iacobelli said, according to the court filing.

A federal investigation led by the FBI and IRS saw indictments against former FCA financial analyst Jerome Durden, Iacobelli (who pleaded guilty to defrauding the United States earlier this month), and Monica Morgan-Holiefield, widow of late UAW VP General Holiefield.

In 2015, Nancy Johnson, top assistant to current UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, allegedly told King to use her credit card for the purchase of a birthday gift. Jewell then took ownership of a $2,180 shotgun (since returned, and the fund reimbursed). Other items King purchased include golf clubs, designer luggage, a $1,000 pair of stiletto pumps, concert and theme park tickets, the document states. In total King is alleged to have made $40,000 in purchases on her NTC credit card.

Johnson has not been charged in the affair.

By keeping them “fat, dumb and happy,” prosecutors claim, Iacobelli hoped union brass would go FCA’s way come bargaining time. Both parties claim the conspiracy didn’t impact the results of the collective bargaining process.

UAW President Dennis Williams said he was “disheartened” to hear of the alleged misconduct Friday. “Based on our own internal investigation, we believe anyone who engaged in intentional misconduct is no longer employed by the UAW,” the labor boss said in a statement. “We continue to cooperate with the DOJ and share information with the government.”

Williams says the purported deeds do not call into question the union’s contract with FCA. Last month, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne echoed the sentiment. “This conduct had nothing whatsoever to do with the collective bargaining process,” he said.

Even though the indictments concern retired (or fired) officials, existing leadership isn’t spared from the scandal’s taint. On Friday, FCA pulled the plug on next week’s media at the Belvidere Assembly Plant — an event where Jewell and Marchionne were scheduled to appear.

[Sources: Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News]

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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12 Comments on “‘Fat, Dumb and Happy’: Fourth Executive Charged as Feds Dish on UAW-FCA Conspiracy...”

  • avatar

    The thing about situations like this is I always wonder, how did they think they were going to get away with it? It might take some time but it’s going to sneak up on you and you’re a goner.

    • 0 avatar

      They always think they are going to get away with it. No matter how many others have tried and failed, every criminal seems to think they are smarter than those who have gone before. If they didn’t think this way, they wouldn’t attempt the crime in the first place.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes…but…we tend to only know about the criminals that were *caught*. More than likely these clowns have been getting away with embezzlement of some sort, their entire careers, and are probably very smart in how they carry out their frauds/thefts/etc.

        Figure they just got sloppy this time. A bit cocky perhaps.

  • avatar

    Corrupt union officials – I blame Trump.

  • avatar

    Spending charitable funds on private expenses- THAT was the Trump version

  • avatar

    Not trying to be dismissive. But this is kinda small fry. I bet bribes are bigger $$$ in places like China, India & Japan etc.

    • 0 avatar

      The funny thing about American law is, American companies are subject to those laws everywhere. There are people who actually argue that American companies are at a disadvantage because they’re not allowed to “play the game”. Other countries have similar laws, but look the other way, unless a scandal erupts, then they crack down for a time.

      Still, this doesn’t do much for the UAW. FCA’s reputation can be cleaned up with stock holders’ demands leading to management changes. The public will still view the union more harshly. Even Sergio can avoid the taint, arguing the plan was for the workers’ benefit, and

    • 0 avatar

      They aren’t bribes, they are consultant fees.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I’m shocked; we don’t have anyone who’s never been in auto assembly plant, knows an auto executive, or knows a UAW member bellowing on about fat, stupid auto execs/UAW members. Or the our usual anti-union crowd raising RNC/Fox News/Breitbart talking points.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    “Even though the indictments concern retired (or fired) officials, existing leadership isn’t spared from the scandal’s taint.”

    This sentence could use a couple more adjectives. “Sweaty” and “putrid” come to mind when discussing a scandal’s taint. Especially if the scandal has been engaging in physical exercise, or manual labor.

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