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Ex-UAW Official Gets 28-Month Prison Term for Supplier Shakedown

Federal investigators creep closer to indicting former union presidents.
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For 12 years, Michael Grimes shook down a United Auto Workers union vendor to the tune of more than $1.5 million. Now he’s the latest former UAW official to head to prison.

Unlike most of his fellow felons, Grimes didn’t embezzle union dues or otherwise misuse union funds. Instead, he collected bribes and kickbacks from a vendor in return for favorably rigging bids to supply promotional jackets and backpacks for union members.

As the ruling judge points out, the fraud hiked the price of the goods, thereby cheating Grimes’ fellow union members.

Rigged Bids

Grimes once sat on the executive board of a worker training center co-operated by the UAW and General Motors. He also was the executive assistant to the head of the union’s GM department. He pleaded guilty last summer to wire fraud and money laundering after agreeing to cooperate with U.S. Dept of Justice prosecutors.

He admits that he conspired with the co-director of the training center and another union official on the shakedown scheme. He spent his share of the spoils on everything from jewelry and a home in Florida to a boat and cosmetic surgery for a relative.

Grimes faced a maximum of 20 years in prison but will serve 28 months, four months more than prosecutors recommended. Judge Bernard Friedman says the sentence is intended to send a positive message to cheated UAW members.

Ex-Presidents Next?

Nearly a dozen UAW officials have been convicted, indicted or implicated to date in a variety of illegal financial activities at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and GM. The federal investigation, which began in 2016 at FCA, continues.

Grimes and seven other former UAW officials were thrown out of the union in January. Investigators have been circling former presidents, Dennis Williams and Gary Jones, who are all but certain to be indicted soon.

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