Everyone's Busted: Ex-UAW VP's Widow Pleads Guilty in Corruption Case

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

The last of four people initially charged in the UAW-Fiat Chrysler corruption scandal pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one of five charges against her. That makes the entire quartet culpable, at least to some degree, to the financial misconduct that occured between the automaker and workers’ union.

However, the case is far from closed. While Monica Morgan, the widow of former UAW vice president General Holiefield, copped to one count of subscribing a false tax return, her plea bargain ignores the other charges against her. The prosecution’s leniency may indicate a hope that she might assist with the ongoing union corruption probe, even though the deal doesn’t require her to cooperate with investigators. Of course, the prosecution already has former FCA labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli for that task

“This plea is yet another step taken toward combating the years-long corruption that plagued the relationship between senior officials at FCA who illegally lined the pockets of UAW officials and, in this instance, the wife of General Holiefield, the former UAW Vice President in charge of the Chrysler Department,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.

The Detroit Free Press also took a statement from Manny Muriel, the special agent in charge of the Detroit Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation arm. “In this particular case, Monica Morgan intentionally took funds which were intended to train hardworking men and women,” Muriel said.

While Morgan’s plea includes an admission to hiding roughly $201,000 from the government in her 2011 tax return, it does not elaborate on where it came from. The federal government is convinced it was part of the $4.5 million syphoned from the employee training fun jointly operated by the UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Morgan’s lawyer, Steve Fishman, claims that this is not the case. “The fact of the matter is that Monica Morgan pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return, period,” Fishman told reporters after the plea hearing. “The conspiracy charge will be dismissed by the government at the time of sentencing. It would be nice if the media stopped including her in their descriptions of the conduct of her codefendants — none of of which involve her.”

Still, the money came from somewhere. The prosecution alleged Morgan and Holiefield paid off their $262,000 mortgage with stolen funds while Wilson Diversified Products, a company they owned together, may have received as much as $435,000 from the scam. Morgan’s photo business was also believed to have received $70,000 from a charity that was supposed to help children. The government claims the charity was really a front to hide the money, set up by her late husband and Iacobelli — who pleaded guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy last month. He’s currently cooperating with authorities in their investigation, but faces up to eight years in prison.

Morgan faces a maximum of 27 months in prison. She will also be required to pay $190,747 in restitution to the U.S. Treasury Department for unpaid tax obligations from 2011 to 2014. Roughly $103,000 seized from her bank account in May of 2016 will go toward the sum, as per her plea agreement.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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