By on February 19, 2020

Michael Grimes, former executive assistant and board member of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, was sentenced to 28 months in prison Wednesday after being convicted of money laundering and wire fraud.

While the sentence could have been longer, prosecutors reportedly asked for leniency due to Grimes’ cooperation with the broader investigation. Initially pushing for about four years of jail time, they eventually toned the recommendation down to just two. U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman acknowledged the defendant’s usefulness in helping federal authorities sniff out more union and industry corruption, then decided to stick him with an extra couple of months to send a message.

Like many tied to the scandal, Grimes pleaded guilty and started working with investigators almost immediately. According to Automotive News, he also requested God’s forgiveness and apologized to the union during court proceedings. The UAW doesn’t seem interested in accepting apologies, however. Its board filed its own action against Grimes in late January, nullifying his membership in a bid to protect itself, and likely won’t be pleased with any finger pointing he offered during interrogation.

From Automotive News:

U.S. prosecutors say Grimes conspired with two unidentified senior UAW officials on multiple schemes going back to at least 2006. Grimes, according to prosecutors, pressured a vendor of custom UAW logo products into giving him a $60,000 mortgage and periodic bribes totaling nearly $900,000.

The prosecution’s criminal information against Grimes says the trio also arranged for the same vendor to sell the joint UAW-GM training center 50,000 “Team UAW-GM” jackets for $6 million in 2011 and 55,000 backpacks for $5.8 million in 2016. Grimes got the vendor to give him more than $1 million in kickbacks for those orders, according to the prosecution.

Grimes used bribe payments to buy, among other things, a 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and property in Florida.

He has agreed to forfeit a house estimated to be worth $600,000 in Fort Myers, FL. The previously mentioned Jeep Wrangler is also being handed over, in addition to another automobile, an ATV, two boats, and a bunch of jewelry. Grime’s lawyer, Michael Manley (who is not related to the FCA executive), attempted to make it clear to the court that his client has cooperated and did not technically embezzle money from the UAW.

Judge Friedman said that wasn’t exactly enough to absolve the defendant, adding that the information gleaned through court proceedings could prove useful in subsequent corruption probes. “I was very surprised to learn that the union had a shop right inside the plant,” he said. “I’d never heard of such a thing.”

Federal agents remain suspicious that union leadership received kickbacks after giving business executives contracts to produce branded clothing and trinkets — with UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada and her predecessor, Joe Ashton, being persons of interest. Aston has already pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing, though prosecutors have been careful to hold off on charging people in direct relation to the trinket issue. Instead, the focus has turned to the misappropriation of membership dues and industry bribes that likely affected contract negotiations with automakers.

Thus far, they’ve managed to convict 12 individuals — with more presumed as both investigations continue.

[Image: Daniel J. Macy/Shutterstock]

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8 Comments on “Ex-UAW Official Sentenced in Union Bribery Scandal...”

  • avatar

    Maybe this is justice.

    But it seems to me that these union people get off pretty easy considering that they did hold fiduciary positions of trust to protect the financial interest of the members and not to solely enrich themselves at members’ expense.

    Maybe the DOJ went easy on them because the US auto industry, GM, Chrysler and by extension the UAW became wards of the State in 2009 with the bailouts, handouts and nationalization.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re worked up about this, you definitely don’t want to know what goes on behind the scenes with people who manage money in America.

      • 0 avatar

        With unions there is NO accountability. But “with people who manage money in America,” there is all sorts of accountability, checks and balances along with verification.

        I’ve lost count of all the verification we had to complete on my wife’s Civil Service CSRS and FERS accounts.

        With unions, “She’s so fine, there ain’t no tellin’ where the money went……”

        Simply irresistible.

  • avatar

    Wow, jackets at $120 per unit for a bulk order with minimal stocking overhead and no retail mark-up. Was each one delivered with a stripper in it holding a $105 back-pack?

    Authorization for multi-million-dollar orders had a cast of thousands (a slight exaggeration) in the sign-off path for companies I worked at. I doubt this was much of a surprise to a lot of back-office UAW employees. The rot has to be far wider and deeper than presently indicated even if they didn’t directly get their snouts in the trough. I actually feel sorry for the screwed-over rank-and-file especially since none of them got a lap-dance with their jacket.

  • avatar

    Hey, jackets can cost $120 especially if they’re embroidered, lets not even get into the $640 toilet seats that the , who was it ,the Army ordered or was that the Pentagon? Not to mention all of the other extreme spending on armament spending!At least he got caught!

  • avatar

    Dating myself, in the 70s (more than 40 years ago? maybe, can’t recall when exactly) we wanted to trade cars and test drove a VW Dasher automatic. IIRC, it had a 1.7L 4 cylinder engine. It was rough and slow but at least it was noisy too. This was one of those cars where you regret taking it on a test drive of a mile or more.

    A friend had a Saturn coupe. The accelerator pedal was a volume control. Pressing on it increased the noise but not the speed.

  • avatar

    I have had some personal experience withe the 1.6L engine used in the Chevette. I was never so happy to see a car leave my possession.

  • avatar

    I have had some personal experience withe the 1.6L engine used in the Chevette. I was never so happy to see a car leave my possession.

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