Ex-UAW Chieftain Gary Jones Pleads Guilty to Corruption, Tax Evasion

The Gary Jones era at the United Auto Workers was brief. But if Jones wants a brief prison sentence, he’ll be at the mercy of prosecutors. Two days ago, June 3, Jones, UAW president until last November, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to embezzlement, racketeering and tax fraud related to his role in the diversion of between $1 million and $1.5 million in union funds toward personal luxuries such as vacations, golf outings and cigars, and their coverup. He is set for sentencing on October 6. Thus far, more than a dozen union and auto industry officials have been convicted following an ongoing probe by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General. A federal takeover of the 400,000-member UAW remains a possibility.

Union Corruption Update has been following this phase of the probe … Read More ➡

Former UAW President Gary Jones Charged with $1M+ Embezzlement

If a government takeover of the United Auto Workers looked like a possibility a few days ago, that possibility just became more real. Yesterday, March 5, Gary Jones (in photo), former president of the United Auto Workers, was charged in an information in Detroit federal court for his role in the embezzlement of well over $1 million in funds from the union, enabling himself and other union leaders to splurge on indulgences unrelated to UAW business. Forced from his post in November, Jones is the biggest catch yet in a union-auto industry probe that so far has netted over a dozen guilty pleas. As this is an information, not an indictment, a plea deal is virtually certain. The actions follow a probe 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 has covered this case since it … Read More ➡

Ex-UAW Official Sentenced for Collecting $2M in Shakedowns

The wages of corruption at the United Auto Workers continue to be paid. On February 18, Michael Grimes, a retired senior official at the Detroit-based union’s General Motors Department, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to 28 months in prison and a year of supervised release for honest services fraud and money laundering conspiracy related to his extraction of roughly $2 million in payoffs from UAW vendors through multiple schemes. He also must pay about $1.5 million restitution plus a $200 assessment. Grimes had pleaded guilty in September after being charged in August. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the IRS and Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Grimes, now in his mid-60s, a resident of Fort Myers, Fla., had served as a $150,000-a-year administrative assistant to United Auto Workers Vice President Estrada. Apparently, it wasn’t enough. … Read More ➡

UAW’s Pearson Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

The outcome couldn’t have been more inevitable for Vance Pearson. And it couldn’t have been less welcome for the people ranking above him. Last Friday, February 7, Pearson, former regional director for the United Auto Workers and a member of the union’s international board, pleaded guilty in Detroit federal court to conspiracy to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds, enabling him and other UAW officials to live large – or at least larger – for nearly a decade. In so doing, he may have brought prosecutors one step closer to bringing charges against former Auto Workers President Gary Jones and his immediate predecessor, Dennis Williams. The action follows a probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

As Union Corruption Update indicated a couple of weeks ago, Vance Pearson, now 58, a resident of … Read More ➡

Insurance Executive in New Jersey Sentenced for Role in $6.6M Scam

Lawrence Ackerman isn’t going to spend too much time behind bars, but his business career deservedly is over. On January 15, Ackerman, founder of two fake health insurance brokerages, was sentenced in Trenton, N.J. federal court to six months in prison and six months of home confinement for his role in a $6.6 million fraud scheme. He also was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution to the welfare fund of United Auto Workers Local 2326, now based in South River, N.J. Ackerman had pleaded guilty in December 2018 after being indicted in January 2017. His partner in crime, former union president Sergio Acosta, was sentenced a little over a year ago to three years of home confinement, and ordered to pay $32,000. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Lawrence Ackerman, now 55, a … Read More ➡

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Perhaps more than usual, corruption stories in 2019 involved the overlapping worlds of unions and politics. In Chicago, former Teamster boss John T. Coli Sr., whose ability to cut deals with City Hall and the Illinois legislature for years went virtually unchallenged, pleaded guilty in July to shaking down a television studio owner. One of his allies, State Senator Tom Cullerton, was hit with multiple embezzlement charges. In Boston, two city officials were convicted of putting the squeeze on a concert promoter on behalf of a Theatrical Employees local. In Philadelphia, an Electrical Workers business manager and seven other persons, including a city councilman, were indicted in January for embezzlement, wire fraud and bribery; a contractor and a fundraiser subsequently pleaded guilty.

The overlap of union and government interests was especially marked in the public sector. Unions, still smarting from the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in 2018, … Read More ➡

Feds Cite Former UAW Presidents for Racketeering; File New Charges against Ex-Regional Boss

It’s official: The United Auto Workers has been declared a racket. On January 6, recently departed UAW President Gary Jones (in photo) and his immediate predecessor, Dennis Williams, were cited, albeit under assumed names, in Detroit federal court as participants in a racketeering enterprise. The designation was part of a new charge against Vance Pearson, former director of a major regional affiliate and a member of the union’s international executive board, of embezzlement conspiracy. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider had been hinting at such action these last few months. Jones had resigned his post under pressure in November. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Union Corruption Update more than once has covered this scandal, the details of which provide a hard look into how the Detroit-based union, with around 400,000 active members, … Read More ➡

UAW Official in Ohio Indicted for Embezzlement

On January 8, Douglas Dye, former unit chairman of United Auto Workers Local 12, was charged in U.S. District for the Northern District of Ohio with one count of embezzling assets from the Toledo-based union in the sum of $8,443 and one count of falsifying union records to conceal the thefts. Prosecutors allege that during June 2013-April 2016, Dye, a union electrician, received more than 50 voucher payments from the local representing unauthorized lost work time. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

UAW Chieftain Gary Jones Resigns as GM Department Scandal Widens

Gary Jones’ tenure as head of the United Auto Workers was brief. But he and the union are preparing for what may be a long ordeal. On November 20, Jones, beset by a slew of federal corruption charges involving extensive illegal payoffs exacted from vendors by ex-officials of the UAW’s General Motors Department, abruptly resigned as president. Nine days later, he ended his union membership. The actions occurred shortly after the UAW executive board filed paperwork to expel him and a regional director, Vance Pearson. While Jones has not been accused of anything (yet), his home was one of several sites raided in August by federal agents. In a related event, GM last month filed a racketeering suit against Fiat Chrysler on grounds that the latter misused the collective bargaining process to facilitate a merger.

If these were normal times, the 400,000-member, Detroit-based United Auto Workers might be … Read More ➡

Ex-UAW Official Pleads Guilty to Receiving Bribes, Kickbacks

The strike by nearly 50,000 United Auto Workers against General Motors ended after nearly six weeks on October 25. But Jeffrey Pietrzyk’s troubles are far from over. On October 22, Pietrzyk, a retired top aide to ex-UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, pleaded guilty in Ann Arbor federal court to honest services fraud and money laundering charges in connection with his acceptance of about $123,000 in bribes and kickbacks from union vendors. He had been charged on September 20. His offenses were part of a dozen-year, $2 million scheme in the union’s GM Department led by now-convicted ex-UAW official Michael Grimes. The actions follow an 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 covered this scandal in August and September. The United Auto Workers’ General Motors Department, like its Chrysler Department, has been the focus … Read More ➡