UAW president is unnamed co-conspirator in corruption probe: Report

The man representing the United Auto Workers union has been implicated in a growing scandal involving the Detroit-based union and its finances - coming as another blow to the union’s reputation.

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UAW President Gary Jones has been identified as one of the co-conspirators in a criminal complaint accusing Region 5 Director Vance Pearson of misconduct, according to the Detroit Free Press, citing a source with knowledge of the case. The complaint, unsealed Thursday, accuses UAW officials of misspending union funds. Pearson faces charges of embezzlement, fraud, filing false reports and conspiracy and is the first sitting official to be charged in the prolonged investigation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Jones, though not named in the indictment directly, is listed as “UAW Official A," according to the Free Press.

In a move to further escalate the prodigious investigation, federal agents executed search warrants last week at the homes of Jones and former UAW President Dennis Williams, as well as the union’s northern Michigan retreat. Federal agents were seen carrying bags and boxes from Jones' home.

FBI agents raid the home of United Auto Workers president Gary Jones Aug. 28, 2019. (Courtesy: WJBK Fox 2)

FBI agents carry materials from the home of UAW President Gary Jones during a search of his Canton home on Wednesday, August 28, 2019. (Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP) (AP)

Jones, who had Pearson’s job before he became the national president in June 2018, was later charged with corruption in the alleged scheme to embezzle union money and spend cash on premium booze, golf clubs, cigars and swanky stays in California.

Most of the corruption cases so far have centered on a Detroit training center jointly run by the UAW and Fiat Chrysler, but the scrutiny now is much wider.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
FFORD MOTOR COMPANY9.07+0.25+2.83%
FCAUFIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES N.V.13.30+0.20+1.53%
GMGENERAL MOTORS COMPANY36.26+0.76+2.14%

“The investigation has also uncovered a multi-year conspiracy involving senior UAW officials embezzling, stealing and unlawfully and willfully abstracting and converting UAW funds to purchase luxury items and accommodations for their own personal benefit,” U.S. Labor Department agent Andrew Donohue said in a court filing.

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The implication of Jones comes amid the largest work stoppage in over a decade. More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked off General Motors factory floors or set up picket lines early Monday as contract talks with the company deteriorated. Workers shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the U.S., as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.

GM says it presented what it believes was a "strong offer" including improved wages and benefits and investments in eight facilities in four states.

“The UAW is focused on standing with our members from General Motors who are on strike,” the union told FOX Business. “Our members are our focus and they stood up for GM in their darkest days. Now we need GM to stand up for us.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.