By on November 6, 2019

UAW

Federal prosecutors aren’t letting up on their ongoing investigation into bribery, corruption, and embezzlement in the high offices of the United Auto Workers, with former vice president Joe Ashton becoming the 13th official charged in the scandal.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Ashton, who retired in 2014, with wire fraud and money laundering in a wide-ranging conspiracy that saw officials demand bribes and kickbacks in exchange for contracts to certain vendors. With this latest development, Ashton becomes the highest-ranking official to land in the legal hot seat.

It might not be a position he holds for long.

According to The Detroit News, Ashton, who once served a three-year stint on General Motors’ board (ending in 2017), allegedly helped guide $15.8 million worth of merchandise contracts to select vendors, one of whom was his personal chiropractor. The paper recently ID’d Ashton as the unnamed figure who demanded $550,000 in kickbacks from said vendors.

That chiropractor was allegedly the vendor tasked with producing $4 million in commemorative UAW watches that never reached workers, prosecutors claim. Ashton resigned from the GM board when word leaked that he was under investigation for nefarious financial activities. In 2011, he headed up contract negotiations with the automaker.

Ashton is not the first figure implicated in that particular scheme. Charges have already been laid against UAW officials Michael Grimes and Jeffery Pietrzyk, the latter of whom is described as Ashton’s right-hand man. Both have pleaded guilty.

While Ashton is, to date, the highest-ranking current or former UAW official to face charges in the corruption probe, all signs point to legal crosshairs being drawn on UAW President Gary Jones, who stepped aside Saturday amid mounting evidence that he took part in an embezzlement scheme with other top officials.

[Image: UAW]

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