Michael Brown might not have been a player in the Chrysler-United Auto Workers pay-for-play scandal that broke wide open last summer, but he was a knowledgeable spectator all the same. And that didn’t sit well with the feds. On May 25, Brown, formerly Fiat Chrysler’s director of employee relations, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of misprision of a felony in connection with the bribing by Chrysler management of several UAW officials with money and other things of value to drop certain issues during collective bargaining sessions a few years ago. Five other people have pleaded guilty so far. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
According to prosecutors, Brown was aware that certain Fiat Chrysler executives had made or authorized payments to members of the United Auto Workers who had served on the union’s negotiating committee but did not report or discourage these bribes. The driving force within management, then-vice president Al Iacobelli, pleaded guilty this January to conspiracy and tax fraud. Another Chrysler employee (Jerome Durden), two former union officials (Virdell King, Keith Mickens) and the wife of a now-deceased union official (Monica Morgan) also have copped pleas. Offering or receiving things of value as labor negotiation inducements is illegal under the Taft-Hartley Act. Sentencing for Brown is set for September 20.