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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
opulence and automakers with sentencing looming former uaw veeps 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]

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.

  • MaintenanceCosts This looks really surprisingly different from the Blazer EV. It's more boring, but it's also more Honda, and for that reason alone it will be taken a lot more seriously in US markets.
  • ToolGuy I found this interesting; you might too: https://youtu.be/asb4jLWWTbQ
  • SCE to AUX Q: "How do you fix automotive media?A: The same way you fix the auto show.That is to say: Don't live in the past, believing every story is original with you. Offer something insightful and useful to your audience that they can't get anywhere else.The auto show allows consumers to sit inside many vehicles under one roof, without sales pressure - something unavailable anywhere else. That's it. The media should accept that the auto show offers nothing new for them anymore, and the auto show should stop pretending that it does.Good examples:[list][*]I've flamed Posky many times, but his long background stories can be thought-provoking and informative. I may not always agree with some of the posturing, but at least they dig deeper than someone's press release.[/*][*]Alex on Autos has some of the best video reviews. He wastes absolutely no time getting to the substance, and his formula is reliable. He packs a lot into 25 minutes.[/*][*]Everyday Reviews: This likeable couple/family covers the daily life aspects of new cars they test - child car seats, user interface, fuel economy, and so on. No hype - just useful.[/*][/list]Bad examples:[list][*]DragTimes: In a 20-minute video, you get 1 minute of racing and 19 minutes of bromance talk. I keep hoping it will improve, but it doesn't.[/*][*]Road and Track's web page is heavily tilted toward unaffordable niche sports cars and racing, with a few feature articles on daily drivers. I visit, but it feels like I'm in a Porsche dealership.[/*][/list]
  • BSttac Honestly automotive journalism is all but dead. Its mostly bloggers with a left based agenda. Cnet and the Drive especially had some really horrible bloggers. Road and Track also has some terrible bloggers so it would not surprise me if they are next. Just look at most bloggers complain about going to an automotive show when they dont realize its not even for them. Very spoiled and out of touch individuals
  • Jkross22 I forgot to include Bring a Trailer. It's so enjoyable to revisit cars from different eras and to read what the most knowlegable have to say about those types of cars.