Second ex-UAW president accused of ousting unions

President Donald Trump talks with leaders of auto industry, including General Motors CEO Mary Barra (L) and United Auto Workers (UAW) President Dennis Williams (R) at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, US March 15, 2017.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

DETROIT – Former United States car president Dennis Williams has been accused of staying and cheating on the US government as part of a multi-year corruption probe into one of America’s most prominent unions.

Williams, who led the organization from 2014 to 2018, is the second ex-president of the union to be indicted. His successor, Gary Jones, pleaded guilty in June to racketeering and embezzlement of union funds.

Federal prosecutors say Williams and at least six other senior UAW officials conspired to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in lavish entertainment such as golfing tours and hot dinners at the expense of UAW conferences.

The charges against Williams, 67, were dropped Thursday as part of criminal information. Criminal information documents are routinely used to prosecute people who intend to plead guilty. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and $ 250,000 in fines.

The documents showed prosecutors identifying three other unnamed collaborators, suggesting more union officials could be charged.

The homes of Jones, Williams and other union officials were raided a year ago as part of an investigation that went public in July 2017.

FBI agents are loading materials into a truck from the home of United Auto Workers President Gary Jones on Wednesday, August 28, 2019.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

Williams is the 15th person accused of misconduct as part of the investigation. So far, 10 UAW officials, one person has joined the union and three directors at Fiat Chrysler have been blamed.

When the federal investigation was made public three years ago, it focused on a joint training center between the UAW and Fiat Chrysler. But it quickly spread to sins in similar operations with General Motors and Ford Motor, which have confirmed they are collaborating with the investigation.

The probe was widened to look at top union leaders looting union funds, money laundering and other illegal activities.

UAW President Rory Gamble, who succeeded Jones, has denied any wrongdoing. In June, he met with U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider on union reform, including possible use of an independent monitor.

United Auto Workers (UAW) Acting President Rory Gamble speaks to Reuters from his office in Southfield, Michigan, November 6, 2019.

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

Williams’ lawyer, Sean Berkowitz, did not immediately return calls for comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also did not immediately respond to comments.

The UAW, in a statement, said Williams should receive criminal punishment for any offenses he may have committed while an officer of the union.

“Today’s development is a sad day for UAW members,” the union said. “But it is also a modest day of truth and justice that shows that no one is above the law, regardless of their position.”