Opulence and Automakers: With Sentencing Looming, Former UAW Veep's Lawyer Tries the Titanic Defense

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
We’re committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using links in our articles. Learn more here
opulence and automakers with sentencing looming former uaw veep s lawyer tries the

Ahead of an August 5th sentencing date, federal prosecutors hoping make an example of former UAW vice-president Norwood Jewell (seen above, on the left) rolled out a raft of visual evidence to back up their case for a jail term.

Jewell was not the “Miller Lite kind of guy” his legal defense wished to portray; rather, the former head of UAW’s Fiat Chrysler division made gluttonous use of FCA funds earmarked for the two groups’ joint training center, prosecutors argued. Jewell was all too happy to accept the financial grease FCA poured on its labor wheels, they added. He wanted to be a “big shot,” and FCA made sure he lived the life of a touring rapper.

Photos of the roughly $95,000 in gifts which flowed from FCA to Jewell were on display in Detroit Tuesday, part of prosecutors’ attempt to land Jewell in prison for a period of 12 to 18 months, The Detroit News reports.

As FCA attempts to settle its way out of a federal investigation into labor law violations, Jewell’s attorney (named — quite remarkably — Michael Manley) argued that his client, who pleaded guilty in April, was a victim of the culture that surrounded him. Essentially, Manley argued that gifts and bribes were the norm, with Jewell, whose own home and vehicle were of modest standing, was just along for the ride.

Manley compared Jewell to the captain of the White Star liner Titanic, which sailed through an ice field at dangerous speeds in 1912, ultimately leading to the death of over 1,500 people. An interesting choice of comparisons.

In the federal sentencing memorandum, Manley states, “How could … Norwood Jewell become the face of union corruption? Much the same way a seasoned ship captain like Edward Smith can become the face of heedless seamanship. Culture.”

In turn, prosecutors displayed photos of lavish gifts purchased with FCA cash, including a now-infamous Beretta over-under shotgun ($2,182), a $8,927 stint in a Palm Springs villa, another SoCal villa paid for with FCA money, and an opulent $25,000 party that featured rare vintages and beautiful women lighting the cigars of union brass.

Never has a stereotype come to life so accurately.

“Instead of seizing the opportunity to zealously and honorably represent the interests of the union’s members and their families, Jewell chose to serve his own interests and to live the life of a big shot and fat cat,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gardey wrote in the memo.

Next week’s sentencing is the job of U.S. District Judge Paul Borman. While other UAW and FCA figures have already had their fates decided in court, Jewell is the highest ranking union official ensnared in the long-running conspiracy between executives at FCA and the UAW.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Comments
Join the conversation
4 of 13 comments
  • Snooder Snooder on Jul 30, 2019

    I just want to ask, does anyone honestly think a $2000 shotgun is "ooh, big spender" level? Cause, lol.

    • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Aug 01, 2019

      I'm sure a lot of people do. I have friends who should know better and when I tell them the price of some of my guns they gulp and say

  • Kyree Kyree on Jul 31, 2019

    Mr. Jewell is a cheap date. In no way am I advocating bribery, but If you *are* going to put your neck on the line to accept bribes, aim higher. $100K isn’t a lot of money at all, in this regard.

    • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Jul 31, 2019

      I agree, Kyree. It appears as if he may be the sacrificial lamb being slaughtered for the benefit of other more egregious offenders and to discourage further looks behind the curtain.

  • Tassos Unlike Tim, I don't use this space as a wastebasket for ANYTHING BUT a proper used car.If you seriously need a car AND you are as destitute as Tim's finds imply, HERE IS A PROPER ONE FOR YOUR NEEDS:You can probably get it for only $4k, WITH Leather, Factory Navigation, plenty of room and a V6.https://www.cars.com/research/toyota-camry-2005/I even considered getting it myself as an extra reliable car.
  • Jeff Of all the EV trucks I like the Rivian the best but I am still years away if ever from buying an EV.
  • Kwik_Shift I definitely like the looks of the newest 300s over the Chargers.
  • SCE to AUX "Should car companies shack up with tech giants in order to produce legible infotainment systems and the like? Or should they go it alone?"Great question(s).The River Rouge days are gone, where Ford produced whole cars out of raw materials entering the plant at the other end. Nearly everything is outsourced these days - sometimes well, sometimes disastrously.But the problem with infotainment systems is that they are integrated with the car's operation. VW has delayed entire products for issues with infotainment.For me, the question boils down to a contractual arrangement - who owns and maintains the code forever? Since more and more of the car's function is tied to the infotainment system, I'd argue that the car mfr needs to own it - especially the larger ones.Do mfrs really want to share intellectual property with Huawei just to fast-track some code they've managed themselves in the past?
  • Kwi65728132 I always did like the styling of the 300C and it was on my short list for a new (to me) rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated V8 luxury sedan but I found a Hyundai Equus that was better optioned than any 300C I could find and for several grand less.
Next