The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a proposed civil settlement with the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the gigantic corruption case that absorbed two former presidents and a slew of union officers over the last few years. With many involved already serving the first part of their prison sentence, the UAW has reportedly agreed to hold a referendum among the rank-and-file to change the way it elects the top brass. The proposal predictably includes some court oversight designed to catch any new instances of fraud coming from inside the union but doesn’t appear to address the corporate aspect.
As a positive, it’s not assumed that the union will see a complete government takeover. Like laundry, it’s already better to separate your alleged corruption to create legal buffer zones.
The writing was on the wall for months, ever since federal agents raided former United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams’ home last September.
Since hosting those gun-toting visitors, Williams cooled his heels, uncharged by waiting for the inevitable hammer to drop. We say inevitable, as Williams’ name was mentioned as a co-conspirator in the trial of another UAW official, with Williams accused of funneling funds earmarked for UAW members into lavish living and gifts for himself and his fellow embezzlers.
In the meantime, Williams watched the union’s previous president — his successor — step down and subsequently be charged for the same illicit deeds court documents claim he performed.
On Thursday, the inevitable came.
Gary Jones, the former United Auto Workers president who stepped down last November amid growing suspicion of wrongdoing, pleaded guilty Wednesday to involvement in a racketeering scheme that saw UAW officials soak themselves in funds earmarked for workers.
Jones is the biggest fish thus far caught in a wide net cast by federal investigators — a net that’s captured nearly a dozen current or former UAW execs with their hands in the till. In the former UAW prez’s case, more than a million dollars’ worth of union dues flowed not into training programs or other benefits, but into lavish living and high-priced toys.
Will Jones see a lengthy term in the clink, you ask? What do you think?
UAW President Rory Gamble, who took the helm of a scandal-rocked union following the resignation of former prez Gary Jones late last year, is reportedly under federal investigation himself.
Gamble embarked on a wide-ranging clean-up operation soon after taking the job in the hopes of avoiding federal oversight, while at the same time charting a bribery- and corruption-free path forward for the union. The investigation’s scope is a broad one, peering beneath every stone, and Gamble claims this particular probe is par for the course.
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider, has said new details about the ever expanding UAW corruption probe have been trickling in. But he’s also criticizing the union for not providing adequate cooperation throughout the multi-year investigative process. Schneider indicated there was new evidence included additional details of malfeasance from former UAW President Gary Jones shared by the union in November. While the prosecutor did not offer details, he said it was the type of information that should have been reported to his office, not publicly.
Automotive News surmised he was likely referencing details released late last month by the union’s executive board in an effort to remove Jones and Region 5 Director Vance Pearson. That report included allegations that Jones let his daughter use a UAW-rented townhouse in Palm Springs, California. Sources familiar with the situation have confirmed that the union publicly released information against the two at roughly the same time it was handed it over to the U.S. attorney’s office.
As members of the media swarm over new vehicles in Los Angeles, a legal drama is playing out in Detroit. General Motors has filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against cross-town rival Fiat Chrysler, alleging FCA conspired to undermine the collective bargaining process and create unfair advantages by bribing UAW officials.
This cost GM lots of money, the automaker claims, and now it wants to collect.
“This lawsuit is intended to hold FCA accountable for the harm its actions have caused our company and to ensure a level playing field going forward,” said Craig Glidden, GM Executive Vice President and General Counsel, in a statement.
They’re not calling it that, but we are. The United Auto Workers, rocked by scandal and indictments stemming from an ongoing federal corruption probe, is embarking on a serious clean-up operation in a bid to maintain its autonomy.
Under the direction of Acting President Rory Gamble, the union has outlined a series of reforms intended to keep the federal government from stepping in and grabbing the tiller.
At this point, ensuring basic adherence to the law among his executives would suffice. Acting UAW President Rory Gamble, who took on the role after President Gary Jones stepped aside on Saturday amid mounting scrutiny over potential illegality, claims he’s sure there are no bad apples among the union’s executive board.
That said, he plans to root out any form of the illegal behaviour that, so far, has seen 13 UAW or automaker officials charged with fraud, embezzlement, and conspiracy in an ongoing federal probe. In the wake of charges laid against former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton this morning, Gamble is donning the title of Mr. Clean.
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.
With UAW President Gary Jones taking a leave of absence during a broadening corruption probe into the union, acting head Rory Gamble is attempting to reassure members that there’ll be no more funny business.
“I know recent events concerning members of our leadership have disappointed and angered many of you. I am angry as well, but I am not here to pre-judge anyone. I am here to take this union forward,” he wrote in a letter.
The message, published Tuesday, saw Gamble take a firm stance on corruption and a slightly softer one regarding previously accused (or convicted) union leaders.
Hot on the heels of charges laid against his top aide, UAW President Gary Jones has taken a leave of absence, the union stated Saturday morning.
Two days ago, federal prosecutors charged UAW official Edward Robinson with conspiracy and fraud in an embezzlement scheme alleged to involve a number of top union execs. Sources who spoke to several media outlets this week fingered Jones as the “UAW Official A” mentioned in court documents.
Jones, who was nearly invisible in the ongoing contract talks between Detroit Three automakers and UAW bargaining teams, is alleged to have shared in the spoils of a nearly decade-long scheme that saw $1.5 million in union dues funnelled into executives’ pockets.
The UAW news is pouring in on two fronts these days. For one, there’s the looming bargaining talks between the United Autoworkers Union and Detroit Three automakers, with General Motors leading the way. Then there’s the ongoing federal investigation into bribery and kickbacks at the highest levels of the UAW.
Just as GM is the initial focus of the contract negotiations, the union department tasked with dealing with the automaker is also the main focus of the FBI probe. On Wednesday, the most recently indicted former UAW official pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. For his crimes, Mike Grimes, a former bargaining team member and administrative assistant to UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada who left the union in 2018, will have to forfeit $1.5 million in bribes.
A federal probe that’s been dropping United Auto Workers staff like flies has another one in its crosshairs, this time with ties to General Motors. Up until now, the investigation has primarily involved members connected to the union’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles department or the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. But, according to court records filed Wednesday, retired UAW-GM Center for Human Resources board member Michael Grimes is also formally accused of corruption.
Grimes becomes the ninth individual to be slapped with corruption charges and the first with links to an automaker outside of FCA. He is not, however, alone. Court documents suggest he’s one of several UAW officials suspected of accepting bribes and kickbacks from automakers; they’ve just yet to be named.
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.
Federal investigators are expanding their ongoing corruption investigation into the United Auto Workers and Detroit Three by taking a long look at donated money intended to buy flowers for member funerals. The concern is that the UAW’s “flower fund” may have been used as a slush fund to finance personal expenses for union officials.
It wouldn’t be the first time. Prosecutors have already secured the convictions of seven people via a probe into the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. Several jailed union officials, along with former FCA-VP Alphons Iacobelli, helped investigators uncover illicit funds funneled through training centers and charities — including the Leave the Light On Foundation, created by the late General Holiefield. Now they’re helping the feds branch out.