In a deal with federal authorities, former UAW President Gary Jones faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $1 million in union funds for his personal use and to a separate count of tax evasion while the union remains under scrutiny.
“With UAW President Gary Jones’ guilty plea today, we move into a new phase of the Justice Department’s investigation of the UAW,” Matthew Schneider, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said in a statement.
“While our criminal cases and the investigation of criminal conduct by individuals and entities continue, we will shift our focus to reforming the UAW so it serves the working men and women of the union first and foremost,” Schneider said in a statement released after Jones’ video hearing. “I look forward to meeting with UAW President Rory Gamble as soon as possible to have these important discussions.”
The UAW has cooperated with federal authorities and handed over 1 million pages of documents to federal authorities during the investigation, which became public in the summer of 2017, union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said.
In a statement issued after Jones’ plea, Gamble said the union is working to put the scandal created by Jones and other union officers behind it.
“Our Union and mission will always be more powerful and resilient than any single individual or obstacle,” said Gamble, who succeeded Jones as union president. “As we close this chapter, we will continue to focus on implementing the necessary reforms to protect our members.”
Reading from a prepared statement, Jones said he was sorry for betraying his “UAW family, his wife and daughters and their families.”
U.S. District Judge Paul Borman set Jones’ sentencing for Oct. 6.
Jones is the 14th defendant to be convicted in connection with the ongoing criminal investigation into corruption within the UAW or relating to illegal payoffs to UAW officials by Fiat Chrysler executives.
The union says it has tightened up its accounting procedures and spending practices, which had been exploited by senior officers such as Jones and other UAW officials, including former vice presidents Norwood Jewell and Joe Ashton.
The reforms prevent UAW officers from setting up personal charities and other funds that have been misused in the past. More reforms are planned, Gamble says.