Second UAW president sentenced to 28 months in prison in union corruption investigation

Gary Jones, newly elected President of the United Auto Workers (UAW), speaks at the 37th UAW Constitutional Convention on June 14, 2018 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan.

Bill Pugliano | Getty Images

DETROIT – The past president of the United Auto Workers was sentenced Thursday to 28 months in prison for participating in a scheme with fellow leaders to collect up to $ 1.5 million in union money for lavish travel, golf, alcohol and to steal other luxuries.

Gary Jones is the second UAW president convicted of a multi-year corruption investigation against the well-known American union. He is one of 15 accused, including three Fiat Chrysler (now Stellantis) executives and his predecessor Dennis Williams, who was sentenced to 21 months in prison last month.

His conviction is one of the latest in the investigation, which has damaged the union’s reputation, aroused suspicion among its members, and resulted in federal oversight of the UAW.

During the hearing, Jones spoke quickly and somewhat emotionally as he apologized to the court, his family, and UAW members.

“I failed [my family]and I failed the UAW, “he said before asking the judge for mercy on the sentencing.

Jones is also required to repay or withhold more than $ 750,000, including $ 550,000 to the UAW and $ 42,000 to the IRS.

US Attorney David A. Gardey described Jones as a “good man” who worked in a “culture of corruption”. He said Jones continues to cooperate with the prosecutor “on other matters” affecting the union.

Prosecutors had recommended a 28-month prison sentence for Jones, which was well below an earlier range of 46 to 57 months as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. The recommendation below reads, according to court records, “commendable substantial cooperation with the government”.

Jones Faust hit his attorney and prosecutors after the verdict. Despite wearing masks, Jones hugged and kissed his wife in the middle of the courtroom in downtown Detroit.

Jones, who headed the union from June 2018 to November 2019, pleaded guilty to extortion, embezzlement and tax evasion in June. As part of the plea agreement, his maximum sentence was nearly five years in prison.

FBI agents clear materials from the home of United Auto Workers President Gary Jones into a truck on Wednesday, August 28, 2019.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

The sentences for those indicted in the federal investigation ranged from 60 days to 5½ years. Ex-Fiat Chrysler executive Alphons Iacobelli, who ran the company’s labor relations, received the longest sentence; however, it has recently been reduced to four years.

In December, the UAW and federal prosecutors agreed to end corruption investigations against the union as part of a civil settlement that saw an independent observer monitor the organization for six years.

Other requirements under the agreement include holding a member-wide vote by the union, possibly to reform its voting process, and making certain repayments, including a payment of $ 1.5 million to the IRS. The UAW has already repaid approximately $ 15 million to training centers for improper chargebacks discovered by officials.

A spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office in Detroit confirmed that a federal criminal investigation was pending against individuals.

The homes of Jones, Williams and other union officials were raided in August 2019 as part of the investigation, which was published in July 2017.

In a statement Thursday the UAW said Jones’ conviction “closes a very dark chapter in the history of the UAW.”

“Jones has clearly put his personal and self-interest above that of his union members and has been removed from his membership in the UAW,” the union said. “These serious crimes violated the oath of the UAW officers and they violated the trust of the UAW officers charged with handling our members’ sacred dues and community action funds.”

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