Retired UAW VP and former General Motors board member Joe Ashton has hired a criminal defense attorney as the FBI continues its investigation into alleged fraud at each of the Big Three automakers’ UAW training centers, The Detroit News reports. The FBI uncovered a multi-year, multi-million-dollar conspiracy at the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center that has led to four indictments over relating to some higher-ups’ activities with regard to enriching themselves and their friends with training center funds.
Joe Ashton’s attorney is a former federal prosecutor and Secret Service special agent from Trenton, New Jersey named Jerome Ballarotto, according to The Detroit News. Ballarotto is also a published crime novelist, under the name of “J.A. Ballarotto”, and his website asserts that as an attorney, he stands between his clients and the “forces of evil”.
“This does indicate that there is some concern about criminal exposure,” Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning told The Detroit News. “How much can you read into it? Whenever your name comes up in connection to an investigation, it’s best to hire experienced counsel.”
With regard to General Motors, federal investigators are interested in both Ashton and his successor at the UAW, Cindy Estrada, who is now in charge of the union’s GM department. The FBI has subpoenaed documents related to GM’s UAW training center.