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 12, 2020

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

Furious over a decision by county officials to keep all non-essential businesses offline until the end of the month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced late Monday that his Fremont, California assembly plant is opening up anyway.

The move comes two days after the automaker filed a lawsuit against Alameda County. In it, Tesla called the county’s order unconstitutional and in violation of California Governor Gavin Newson’s statewide return-to-work mandate. Should county officials call in the cops, Musk wishes to be the only one in cuffs. (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 10, 2020

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

California announced late last week that it will allow the cautious reopening of manufacturing operations across the state, but Alameda County resisted, claiming it will keep non-essential businesses shuttered until the end of the month.

Guess which county Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant is located in.

Now guess Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s reaction to the country’s announcement. If you speculated that Tesla might sue Alameda Country, with Musk launching an online tirade in which he promises to move Tesla HQ and all future products out of the state, you’d be right. (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…)

By on April 20, 2020

Did Ford rip off someone else’s playlist? The answer to this question will emerge from a courtroom, now that the owner of a vast digital music catalog has filed a lawsuit against the automaker.

The copyright infringement suit, filed late last week, accuses Ford of improperly using 54 songs in its marketing materials over the span of several years. (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2020

On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that the Real ID deadline — which had previously been delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak — has been pushed back until October 21st, 2021, as directed by President Trump.

Enacted in May of 2005, the Real ID Act was basically Congress over-responding to 9/11 by mandating that state-issued driver’s licenses be updated so they can be used for official purposes by the federal government (as defined by Homeland Security). While the primary goal is to mitigate air travel of undocumented immigrants between states, the aforementioned “official purposes” applies to whatever the federal government thinks prudent on any given day — including barring citizens without the ID from military bases or federal buildings, in addition to air travel.

If you haven’t heard of Real IDs (indicated by a little gold star in the corner), you’re not alone. The issue only gets a smattering of coverage every couple of years; plenty of states spent the period following 2005 pushing back against the plan, delaying its implementation several times via extensions. It was initially supposed to come into effect in four phases starting in 2008, but changes didn’t actually start until 2014. At this point, the nation is at phase three (which restricts access to federal facilities), with phase four applying new rules to U.S. air travel. (Read More…)

By on March 11, 2020

 

Ren Cen. GM

Fiat Chrysler wants to see General Motors’ racketeering lawsuit dismissed, but the automaker’s crosstown rival isn’t in a charitable mood.

GM contends that bribery of United Auto Workers officials by FCA over years of contract talks left that automaker sitting pretty, with extra labor costs dumped on its Detroit competitors. While FCA claims GM can’t prove it’s a victim, The General says otherwise. (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2020

The ongoing federal probe into bribery, money laundering, and embezzlement among UAW officials marches on, with former president Gary Jones being the latest figure hit with charges. While expensive villa rentals and tony hooch seemed to be common expenditures among UAW brass with ill-gotten financial gains, the scandal also highlighted a certain piece of lakefront property.

That property, as well as the spacious home built on it, is something the UAW would rather not have anything to do with. It can now be yours. (Read More…)

By on March 5, 2020

UAW

Federal authorities have charged former United Auto Workers President Gary Jones with embezzling more than $1 million of union funds.

It’s the latest round of charges and the highest-profile target thus far in the ongoing investigation into corruption among the union’s upper ranks. A criminal information reveals Jones, who resigned as president last November, plans to plead guilty and cooperate with federal investigators.

Three of Jones’ former aides, all of whom were swept up in the corruption probe, provided assistance that led to today’s charges. The former UAW boss was one of several top execs who prosecutors say diverted union funds towards lavish living and toys. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2020

It seems a rowdy (or perhaps lonely) Valentine’s Day evening turned into a somnambulant early morning in Troy, Michigan, where police responded to a report of more than one driver asleep in a McDonald’s drive-thru lane at the same time.

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck behind a solitary crossover or minivan in which every last occupant is ordering a full meal — with very specific condiment criteria — this boozy drive-thru tale could be your worst nightmare. (Read More…)

By on February 12, 2020

Carlos Ghosn - Titan intro - Image: Nissan

Jeez, it’s a good thing they didn’t have kids.

Nissan has responded to former chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japanese captivity — and subsequent doubling down on his accusations of a corporate coup orchestrated by Nissan execs, with the help of Japanese officials — by filing a lawsuit.

As it attempts to free up cash elsewhere in the company, the struggling automaker is seeking to recoup losses from Ghosn’s alleged financial impropriety. (Read More…)

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