By on September 16, 2020

The Uber test vehicle that struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, has been under public scrutiny since March of 2018. But we never heard a lot about the safety driver behind the wheel. So much attention was given to addressing whether or not the autonomous systems on the SUV should or could have seen Elaine Herzberg  and stopped the car before the tragedy occurred  that it became the overriding narrative.

But it really shouldn’t have, as some of the earliest video footage appeared to show that Uber’s safety operator had entirely tuned out of the driving experience in the moments leading up to the incident. Fortunately, Maricopa County Superior Court and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were keeping tabs while the rest of us were not. In fact, the former decided to charge Rafael Vasquez (who also goes by Rafaela) with negligent homicide late last month.

(Read More…)

By on September 15, 2020

Greg Kelly, the American businessman and former Nissan board member that was arrested with ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn almost two years ago, has pleaded not guilty to the financial misconduct charges leveled against him in Japan. While he was supposed to stand trial with Mr. Ghosn, Carlos escaped his captors with the help of at least one U.S. Army Special Forces veteran and a lot of careful planning at the end of 2019. Kelly is accused of helping the former chairman hide millions of dollars in deferred compensation.

During the trial, he defended Ghosn by saying he was an outstanding automotive executive who helped save Nissan in its darkest hour. He also hinted that the firm should have done everything in its power to retain him, adding that his role was to find legal ways of keeping Ghosn from jumping ship to a rival company. While that included financial incentives, Kelly asserted during the trial that Nissan’s attorneys were always consulted before decisions were made and that no illegal actions were taken. “I informed Mr. Ghosn what could be done legally and what could not be done legally,” he told the court. “I believe the evidence will show that I did not violate the [financial] disclosure regulations.”

(Read More…)

By on August 28, 2020

A criminal complaint filed this week details a very Cold War-like plot to cripple Tesla from the inside. Federal prosecutors and the automaker claim a Russian “tourist” attempted to coerce an employee of Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory to infect the company’s system with malware, and in doing so receive a payment of $1 million.

The employee reportedly turned down the offer and squealed on the so-called tourist, leading to an FBI sting operation — as well as this week’s criminal complaint. (Read More…)

By on August 27, 2020

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. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2020

Carlos Ghosn Rogue Introduction - Image: Nissan

As the saying goes, the family that orchestrates the clandestine escape of an accused auto executive together, stays together. It seems that, on both sides of the operation to spirit arrested auto titan Carlos Ghosn out of Japan, were father-and-son teams.

In the U.S., arrangements for aircraft rentals and musical instrument boxes were handled by a former U.S. Army Special Forces member and his son, with funding provided by Ghosn  himself, and about half a million dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency offered up by Ghosn’s son, U.S. prosecutors claim. (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2020

 

Ren Cen. GM

General Motors’ racketeering lawsuit against rival Fiat Chrysler is dead in the water after a federal judge dismissed the case on Wednesday.

The move comes after GM appealed U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman’s order that the CEOs of the battling automakers should meet in private and hash out a resolution themselves. The General won half of its appeal, and the meeting was scrapped, but Borman, who described the lawsuit as a “nuclear” option that only served to clog up the courts in a time of COVID-19, stayed on the case — against GM’s wishes.

Now, the case has come to an end, though the battle might still rage on. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2020

 

Ren Cen. GM

The coronavirus pandemic and waves of protests may have captured much of the nation’s attention, but holdovers from the Before Times remain. Among them, General Motors’s racketeering lawsuit against rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Remember that?

GM claims FCA, with the help of corrupt UAW officials, hammered out mutually beneficial labor deals that gave the Italian-American automaker an unfair edge over its competition. After appealing a judge’s ruling last week, GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, will now be able to attend a court-ordered meeting with FCA CEO Mike Manley with legal representation in tow.

Oh, to be a fly on that wall. (Read More…)

By on June 11, 2020

Struck by a cyber attack on its global computer network that temporarily knocked out a few factories and most of its customer service centers, Honda is reporting that things are gradually returning to normal.

“Work is being undertaken to minimize the impact and to restore full functionality of production, sales and development activities,” the company said in a statement earlier this week.

Impacted facilities are supposedly already in decent shape, and the business hopes to move past this in short order. But what actually happened?  (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2020

2019 Honda Accord Touring white - Image: Honda

Production of certain Honda vehicles ran into another roadblock on Monday, as the automaker claims it was the victim of a cyber attack.

Reuters reports that production ceased at many of Honda’s manufacturing facilities in the wake of the suspected attack out of fear that quality control processes may have been compromised. (Read More…)

By on June 3, 2020

UAW

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? (Read More…)

By on May 27, 2020

In the millimetre-deep world of online sociopolitical commentary, the United States is portrayed as a lawless land of heartless thugs and capitalist greed. Its neighbor to the north, on the other hand, is often pictured as a doe-eyed innocent whose heart is too inherently pure for any wrongdoing. A superficial take, for sure, and certainly one that didn’t take Ontario’s towing industry into account.

North of Lake Erie and Ontario, around the small, idyllic hamlet of Toronto, police just laid nearly 200 charges against tow truck operators who they say waged a violent, multi-year war against each other. What started out as simple rivalry between tow companies devolved into a full-scale conflict that boasted every ingredient of organized crime: guns, drugs, money, intimidation, arson, and murder.

Dozens more arrests are expected. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2020

Authorities arrested a former U.S. special forces member and his son in Massachusetts Wednesday, accusing them of helping former Renault and Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escape from Japanese justice. Just after Christmas, Ghosn, under house arrest awaiting trial for financial crimes, turned up in the safe country of Lebanon following a complex and hazy escape plan.

Such a plan was beyond the abilities of Ghosn to pull off on his own, but it seems just such an extraction was Michael Taylor’s specialty. Taylor, 59, a former Green Beret, was arrested along with his 27-year-old son Peter. (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2020

UAW

Former United Auto Workers President Gary Jones was arraigned via video link yesterday, catapulting the disgraced union boss back into the headlines two months after his arrest on charges of embezzlement, racketeering, and defrauding the U.S. government.

During a videoconference held by the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Jones’ attorney entered a not-guilty plea for his client, though the former UAW boss is expected to plead guilty in June. The manner in which Jones was charged gives every indication a plea deal is in the works, with Jones’ assistance in fingering co-conspirators offered in exchange for a reduced sentence. (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2020

Ontario Provincial Police, via Twitter

A finely tuned German road machine is always seeking to influence its driver. Prodding the individual to let down their defenses, throw caution to the wind, and open ‘er up.

Make any road your Autobahn. Feel alive, if only for once in your pathetic, stinking life, the German car whispers…

And yet, despite the supercar-fighting prowess instilled into many Mercedes-AMG products, you can’t blame the car or the manufacturer once Johnny Law catches up to you. Especially when you’re a teenager clocked going 191 mph in dad’s C63. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2020

Remember, long ago, when former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn filled headlines, rather than a virus? Good times. And it seems they’re still good times for Ghosn, whose Bond-like pre-New Year’s escape from Japanese authorities via chartered jets and a musical instrument case delivered him to the relative safety of Lebanon. Warrants are out, but the country’s lack of an extradition agreement with Japan works heavily in the fallen exec’s favor.

While Ghosn, arrested in Tokyo in November of 2018 on suspicion of financial misdealings, may have managed to side-step what he claims was an orchestrated legal hit job, the same can’t be said of the crews of the private jets that shuttled him to Beirut. (Read More…)

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