Dennis Williams, the former president of the United Auto Workers, pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds on Wednesday. His copping to the conspiracy charge comes after his successor, Gary Jones, similarly pleaded guilty to misappropriating more than $1.5 million from the UAW in June. They’re joined by numerous co-conspirators that have been caught in a gigantic federal probe hoping to address union corruption and appears to have hit pay dirt.
Appearing by video in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Williams entered his plea and apologized about the current state of the UAW. “I want to close by apologizing to this court, to my family and to each and every hard-working member paying dues,” he said. “I hope by accepting responsibility for my actions and for my failures, this process might help restore the faith in our union.”
Hoping to bounce back from its ongoing corruption scandal, the UAW announced the placement of its new independent ethics officer on Wednesday. The union group expressed a need for an independent ethics officer after Rory Gamble took over for defamed former UAW President Gary Jones late last year.
“As the acting president, I’m committed to putting in place the right mechanisms to safeguard our union, regaining the trust of our members, and ensuring the misconduct that has recently come to light will never happen again,” Jones explained in November. “That is why I am ordering immediate actions that will lay the foundation for a more transparent, more accountable, and more responsible future for our union.”
The UAW then launched an national search for an ethics officer. This week, it settled on former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board Wilma Liebman.
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.
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.
Remember the multi-million dollar corruption scandal involving UAW officials? Apparently, it was even more corrupt than previously reported. While the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center is suing both Fiat Chrysler and the union members involved, recent developments point to the money scheme being greenlit by former UAW President Dennis Williams.
As part of a plea agreement filed this week, ex-labor official Nancy Adams Johnson told investigators that Williams specifically directed union members to use funds from Detroit’s automakers, funneled through training centers, to pay for union travel, meals, entertainment, and more. If true, the accusation not only implicates the UAW of corruption at the highest level but also the potential involvement of staff from both Ford and General Motors — something the FBI is already looking into.
I believe the official industry term for something like this is a “shit show.”
The UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, which remains in the midst of a multimillion-dollar federal corruption scandal, is suing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials and a union leader’s widow for over $4.4 million in damages. If you’ll recall three FCA employees filed a federal lawsuit against the automaker and the UAW seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over allegations that union officials colluded with company executives to influence collective bargaining earlier this year.
Now it’s time for the National Training Center to get a piece of the action. The lawsuit, filed Friday in Oakland County Circuit Court, targets former FCA labor negotiator Alphons Iacobelli; Monica Morgan-Holiefield, the widow of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield; and ex-FCA financial analyst Jerome Durden. Money was believed to be funneled through the training facility by a policy created by company officials to bribe UAW leaders into giving the automaker favorable treatment during collective bargaining.
The last of four people initially charged in the UAW-Fiat Chrysler corruption scandal pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one of five charges against her. That makes the entire quartet culpable, at least to some degree, to the financial misconduct that occured between the automaker and workers’ union.
However, the case is far from closed. While Monica Morgan, the widow of former UAW vice president General Holiefield, copped to one count of subscribing a false tax return, her plea bargain ignores the other charges against her. The prosecution’s leniency may indicate a hope that she might assist with the ongoing union corruption probe, even though the deal doesn’t require her to cooperate with investigators. Of course, the prosecution already has former FCA labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli for that task
The multimillion-dollar corruption scandal involving the United Automobile Workers and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is starting to cross the line from hubbub to full-on fiasco. Earlier this week, three FCA employees filed a federal lawsuit against the automaker and the UAW seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over allegations that union officials colluded with company executives to influence collective bargaining.
Meanwhile, a recently released plea deal with former FCA labor relations head Alphons Iacobelli implicated former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell — the man tasked with overseeing the most recent round of contract negotiations with FCA. Iacobelli claims he and other FCA employees transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal payments to tax-exempt organizations controlled by UAW officials, including Jewell’s Making Our Children Smile Foundation.
Former Fiat Chrysler labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli pleaded guilty to two of seven charges relating to his role in a plan to divert more than $4.5 million in training center funds to union and company officials on Monday. As part of a plea deal with federal authorities, Iacobelli provided information regarding confidential retirement offers and a former union vice president being groomed to support company initiatives.
In an admission that he and other FCA employees paid various senior UAW officials over $1.5 million in an effort to “obtain benefits, concessions, and advantages for FCA in the negotiation, implementation, and administration,” Iacobelli is now helping map the deepening mire that is the FCA-UAW training center scandal.
General Motors has decided to cut ties with Alphons Iacobelli, the former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles labor relations chief accused of embezzling funds earmarked for worker training. That money is believed to have gone into extensive home renovations, the installation of a pool, personal credit card expenses, the leasing of a private jet, a $350,000 Ferrari 458 Spider, and two Mont Blanc pens worth $37,500 each.
While GM suspended Iacobelli in July (after federal officials charged him for his alleged role in a multi-million dollar criminal conspiracy during his time at FCA), it only recently confirmed his departure from the company.
A federal investigation that started with corruption charges against a former Fiat Chrysler labor executive and the wife of a deceased United Auto Workers vice president has expanded to include training centers created by both General Motors and Ford. Investigators issued subpoenas in recent weeks to amass information on the centers, which are jointly operated between the automakers and the UAW.
In the FCA case, company and union officials are alleged to have misappropriated an estimated $4.5 million earmarked for employee training. That money is believed to have gone into personal accounts and used to buy suspiciously extravagant items. The FBI appears to be concerned that similar activities could be happening at Ford and GM-backed training sites.
Automotive conspiracies are all the rage right now. However, my current favorite is the cooperative machinations between Fiat Chrysler employees and UAW representatives to embezzle millions from a joint training fund.
On Tuesday, former FCA financial analyst Jerome Durden entered a guilty plea at a hearing in federal courtroom in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Durden aims to cooperate with prosecutors (in exchange for a reduced sentence) as they build their case against other conspirators — specifically Alfons Iacobelli, FCA’s former head of labor relations, and Monica Morgan, widow of General Holiefield, the UAW’s former head of its Chrysler division.
The pair are alleged to have the siphoned over a million dollars from the FCA-UAW Joint Training Center between 2009 and 2014, blowing the majority of it on home expansions, fancy cars, first-class plane tickets, and extravagant baubles. Meanwhile, Durden was caught failing to file a tax return for the approximately $4,000 he received in 2013. Oh, and for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.
Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli and Monica Morgan, wife of late UAW Vice President General Holiefield, have been charged by a federal grand jury with violating the Labor Management Relations Act.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit, the pair were indicted on Wednesday for corruption after a lengthy joint investigation between the FBI and the IRS.
Iacobelli is accused of acting in the interest of FCA by issuing over $1.2 million in illegal payments and bribes to union members — including Morgan and Holiefield. The former union executive’s untimely death appears to have thrust his widow into the spotlight and saved him the trouble of a lengthy trial.
Morgan is best known for her work as a photographer in Detroit, and for being accidentally shot in the stomach by her husband while he was cleaning his Desert Eagle handgun in 2013. Iacobelli is primarily known for negotiating killer deals with the UAW and an abrupt, scandal-related, retirement in 2015.
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