Ex-UAW president Gary Jones charged in corruption probe

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UAW president Gary Jones marches with Union workers in the Labor Day parade down Michigan Ave. Monday, Sept. 2, 2019 in Detroit, Mich.

UAW president Gary Jones marches with Union workers in the Labor Day parade down Michigan Ave. Monday, Sept. 2, 2019 in Detroit, Mich. (Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

DETROIT – Federal prosecutors have charged Gary Jones, the former head of the UAW, in the corruption probe.

The charges, which accuse Jones, among other things, of conspiring to embezzle union funds and aiding racketeering activity, were unsealed Thursday. They were filed as an information in U.S. District Court in Detroit, meaning Jones is expected to plead guilty.

Jones resigned in disgrace last year after he was implicated in federal court papers which said he was one of several top union officials who had embezzled more than a million dollars and spent it on meals, cigars and other lavish goodies.

The paperwork charging Jones was actually filed on Feb. 27 but kept under seal. That was just days before Jones’ former aide Edward “Nick” Robinson pleaded guilty in the case and agreed to cooperate.

Previous filings, where Jones was listed as UAW Official A, accused him of offering to “take care of” a relative of Robinson’s with a sham job if he would take the rap for a portion of the embezzlement. There were even references to a burner phone.

Jones is not likely to be the last person charged in the case, with several additional unnamed union officials listed in the paperwork. Jones’ predecessor, Dennis Williams, has been identified to the Free Press by a source with knowledge of the case as UAW Official B.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider has also indicated that the case has a ways to go.

Thirteen people have pleaded guilty since the scandal burst into public view in 2017 with the indictments of Alphons Iacobelli, onetime lead labor negotiator for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Monica Morgan, the widow of the late General Holiefield, who had been a UAW vice president.

Training centers for both FCA and General Motors were also both entangled in the scandal as funds were diverted for improper uses or contracts with vendors led to kickbacks for union officials, a shocking revelation for a union once known for its clean image.

The scandal also involved former GM board member and UAW Vice President Joe Ashton. He awaits sentencing after admitting rigging a multi-million dollar contract for 58,000 custom-made watches, according to previous reporting.

The UAW, under current President Rory Gamble, has instituted various ethical and financial reforms, but it’s unclear if those will be enough to placate federal officials. The possibility of a federal takeover remains. Schneider previously criticized the union as not being forthcoming to investigators with information.

Federal official were planning a press conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the case.

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