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Still Another Ex-UAW Official Cops a Plea in Corruption Probe

Prosecutors circle closer to two ex-UAW presidents.
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A federal probe into racketeering at the United Auto Workers union is zeroing in on indictments against two former union presidents.

Today, Justice Dept. prosecutors moved closed to charge ex-presidents Dennis Williams and Gary Jones, The Detroit News reports.

A dozen people, most of them former UAW officials, have been convicted to date. The latest is Vance Pearson. He had been charged in September with conspiracy, embezzlement, money laundering and wire fraud.

Conspiracy Theory

Today he pleaded in part help the Williams and Jones embezzle more than $1.5 million in union funds. He faces 30 months in prison but could earn a shorter sentence after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. Court documents use pseudonyms for Jones and Williams, but sources helped the News identify them.

Pearson is a former head of the UAW’s now disbanded Region 5, an area that represented the union in 17 states from Hawaii and Alaska to Texas and Missouri. He also is a former aide to Jones, who preceded him as director of Region 5. Both men resigned in November.

The Detroit News says court records appear to describe secret recordings of conversations between Jones and Pearson about destroying evidence and obstructing justice. Jones and Williams also ordered Pearson to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds they spent on themselves.

Probe Enters 5th Year

This whole sordid mess dates to 2016 when federal prosecutors began looking into the misuse of $4.5 million intended for a joint UAW-Fiat Chrysler Automobiles employee training center. That probe resulted in eight indictments of former union and company officials.

Since then, the investigation has spread to UAW activities involving General Motors. Legal experts tell the News that Pearson’s agreement to cooperate with prosecutors could accelerate the process and lead to further indictments.

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