| 4:04 PM EST

Ex-UAW Chief Pleas Guilty in Corruption Scandal

Highest-ranking official nabbed to date in 4-year-old probe
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Gary Jones, who stepped down as president of the United Auto Workers union in November, has pleaded guilty to fraud and embezzling more than $1 million.

Jones, 63, was arraigned on the charges in a Detroit federal court last month. He faced as much as 10 years in prison but is likely to serve no more than 57 months in return for cooperating with the continuing investigation.

 Gary Jones  (Image: UAW)

Probe Grinds On

Jones is the 14th person to plea guilty in the probe, which began four years ago into the misuse of funds at a jointly run UAW-Fiat Chrysler Automobiles training center outside Detroit.

The investigation has since spread to the theft of UAW funds by a numerous former union executives. Dennis Williams, the UAW president who Jones succeeded in 2018, is expected to be indicted soon.

Federal prosecutors say their quest isn’t over yet and could lead to the U.S. Dept. of Justice taking over management of the union. Current UAW President Roy Gamble insists the union is implementing sweeping reforms to maintain its independence, but federal officials have been skeptical.

History of Corruption

Jones, a certified public accountant, breezed into the UAW presidency in 2018 as Williams’ replacement. He positioned himself as a reform candidate as the federal probe at the UAW-FCA training center was developing.

The charges against Williams and Jones, along with other UAW officials, focus on illegal activities while each of the two executives headed the union’s 17-state Region 5. Jones’ successor in that job, Vance Pearson, was indicted last December for money laundering and embezzlement.

Region 5, which covered most of the western half of the U.S., has since been disbanded and its territories reassigned to two other regions.

What’s Next?

The chances of the UAW avoiding government oversight dims with every new guilty plea in the federal investigation. This mess isn’t over yet.

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