UAW Corruption Probe Continues as Jewell Heads to Prison
Former union vice president Norwood Jewel has become the highest ranking UAW member to be convicted of corruption charges in a federal investigation that has lasted four years and delivered prison sentences for eight people, including Fiat Chrysler’s former labor negotiator, Alphons Iacobelli. You might recall him from to his extravagant spending habits.
The probe amassed evidence showing UAW officials receiving extravagant gifts, private residences, vacations, parties, and even cash furnished by FCA. Bribes, essentially, to help draw union concessions. Investigators looked into claims that high-ranking UAW members received kickbacks after giving business executives contracts to produce union-branded chachkies (shirts, keychains, frisbees, etc) and concerns that union members’ donations to flower funds intended for funeral services were misappropriated by the leadership.
Ford and General Motors are also under the microscope, with both saying they’re in full cooperation with authorities and cannot comment further.
As for Jewell, he was found guilty of receiving illegal gifts and benefits from Fiat Chrysler executives that included a $2,182 shotgun, $8,927 for a two months in a Palm Springs villa with a private pool and hot tub, a $25,065 party with with hostesses and wine bottles featuring Jewell’s name on the label, and more. It’s estimated he received roughly $95,000 in “gifts” from FCA directly, with the possibility of more coming in via other channels.
Jewell was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for accepting bribes on Monday. He previously plead guilty to breaking federal labor laws last April.
In addition to the ongoing investigation of union-branded swag and flower funds, the feds are still looking into numerous UAW staffers — often after convicted parties starting giving up information. According to The Detroit News, this the investigation is far from over:
One of those people, former Jewell aide Nancy Adams Johnson, told investigators that [former UAW President Dennis] Williams directed subordinates to use funds from Detroit’s automakers, funneled through training centers, to pay for union travel, meals and entertainment.
As part of a plea agreement last year, Adams Johnson told investigators Williams made the directive to relieve pressure on the union’s budget.
“It’s an ongoing investigation and we’re not done,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider told reporters outside court. “We will continue to work on this until we’re confident that we have leadership in the UAW that represents the men and women of the union and does what they’re supposed to do.”
The ongoing corruption scandal entangling also embroiled the late CEO Sergio Marchionne and led to a shakeup of the top ranks of the Detroit-based auto industry.
Meanwhile, FCA is negotiating a settlement deal that would put an end to a criminal investigation trying to uncover whether executives conspired to pay bribes and break labor laws during a years-long conspiracy with the UAW. The negotiations hinge on Fiat Chrysler agreeing to government oversight for up to five years, paying less than $50 million in penalties and making institutional changes to emerge from the bribery scandal to emerge as a better company.
The Detroit News has photos of the evidence used against Jewell, additional corruption details that will make your head spin, and some pretty ugly language coming from all sides. If you like a good scandal, it’s worth a read.
[Image: James R. Martin/Shutterstock]
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