15th UAW official pleads guilty in years-long corruption investigation

FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2017 file photo, then-United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams...
FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2017 file photo, then-United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams speaks during a roundtable with reporters in Detroit. Williams has been charged with corruption, accused of conspiring with his successor and others to embezzle money for golf, vacation villas and fine dining.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 4:38 PM EDT
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DETROIT, Mich. (WJRT) - Another former United Auto Workers has pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges stemming from a years-long investigation into corruption in the union’s highest levels.

Dennis Williams is the 15th official to be convicted or plead guilty.

Williams, 67, made a guilty plea to charges of conspiring with other top UAW leaders to embezzle union funds for personal use from 2010 to September 2019, according to U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.

“Former UAW President Dennis Williams has accepted responsibility for his conduct and, in that way, has contributed to our efforts with the union’s current leadership towards reforming the UAW to better serve its members and their families,” Schneider said. “Today’s conviction demonstrates that we will continue our drive forward to provide ethical and honest leadership for the UAW’s membership.”

Williams, who now lives in California, was president of UAW International Union from June 2014 to June 2018 after a four-year stint as the union’s secretary-treasurer from 2010 to 2014. Schneider alleges that Williams and six other union officials hid hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of personal spending at UAW conferences in California and Missouri.

Former UAW President Gary Jones and others submitted false expenses for training and conferences to cover up lavish entertainment and personal spending, Schneider said. The allegations include long stays at private villas in Palm Springs, Calif., cigars, golfing apparel, liquor and meals.

Williams faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced. He already agreed to forfeit a custom-made set of Titleist golf clubs and various golf clothing and equipment seized during an August 2019 search of his residence.

Williams agreed to pay federal income taxes on embezzled items that he received.

The following former UAW leaders already have pleaded guilty to charges from the embezzlement scheme and appeared in court for sentencing:

  • Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Vice President for Employee Relations Alphons Iacobelli (66 months in prison).
  • Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Financial Analyst Jerome Durden (15 months in prison).
  • Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Employee Relations Department Director Michael Brown (12 months in prison).
  • Former senior UAW officials Virdell King (60 days in prison).
  • Keith Mickens (12 months in prison).
  • Nancy A. Johnson (12 months in prison).
  • Monica Morgan, the widow of UAW Vice President General Holiefield, (18 months in prison).
  • Former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell (15 months in prison).
  • Former senior UAW official Michael Grimes (28 months in prison).

The following former UAW officials have pleaded guilty to the embezzlement scheme and are awaiting sentencing:

  • Former UAW President Gary Jones.
  • Former UAW Vice President Joseph Ashton.
  • Former senior UAW official Jeffrey “Paycheck” Pietrzyk.
  • Former UAW Region 5 Director UAW Board member Vance Pearson.
  • Former UAW Midwest CAP President Edward “Nick” Robinson.

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