Ex-UAW Official Pleads Guilty to Role in Chrysler Training Fund Scandal

In the overall scheme of things, Virdell King was a minor figure. But the evidence of her guilt was compelling all the same. On August 29, Ms. King, a former contract negotiator for the United Auto Workers, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy related to her diverting tens of thousands of dollars from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center to her own use and the use of others. She had been charged on August 11. The two principals in the case, Monica Morgan, widow of late UAW Vice President General Holiefield, and Alphons Iaocbelli, a former Chrysler vice president and labor negotiator, were indicted in July for their roles in the $1.2 million scam. The actions follow a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Union Corruption Update discussed this case at length in early August. Federal prosecutors had alleged that Iacobelli, who left Fiat Chrysler in 2015, wrote checks from a bank account in the name of the company-funded UAW-Chrysler National Training Center (NTC) to a questionable nonprofit group controlled by General Holifield. In turn, Holiefield diverted funds from the nonprofit to a pair of businesses run by his wife, Monica Morgan. Ms. Morgan in turn fleeced the nonprofit to fund her many shopping sprees. A former Chrysler financial analyst, Jerome Durden, was charged separately, and pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy for filing fraudulent tax returns to conceal unauthorized NTC payments. As it turned out, there was one more piece to the puzzle: Virdell King.

According to a superseding information, Ms. King, now 65, a resident of Detroit and a member of the United Auto Workers collective bargaining team in 2011 and 2015, purchased things of value with UAW-Chrysler National Training Center credit cards. Fiat Chrysler Vice President Alphons Iacobelli allegedly had told senior UAW officials that they could use their NTC credit cards, stating, “If you see something you want, feel free to buy it.” In addition to the thousands of dollars she spent on herself, she bought more than $40,000 of consumer goods between December 2012 and August 2015 for other senior UAW officials, at times at their behest. Among these items were shoes, clothing, jewelry, luggage, golf equipment, concert tickets, theme park tickets and a shotgun.

Virdell King’s sentencing is scheduled for January 3, 2018. Federal officials believe she will be getting her just deserts. Daniel Lemisch, Acting U.S. Attorney, stated: “Union rank and file members deserve the undivided loyalty of their leadership. Collusion between management and labor that serves to line the pockets of corrupt individuals is a breach of trust and will be prosecuted.” James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge for the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General, put it this way: “Virdell King’s plea casts a dark shadow on UAW contracts negotiated while she was a member of the International Union’s collective bargaining team…We will continue to investigate corrupt union officials who violate their duty to the members they represent for personal gain.”