As the FBI probe into the UAW continues, union president Gary Jones has elected to take a paid, voluntary leave of absence.
Jones stepped down just days after The Detroit News published a report identifying Jones as the unnamed “Union Official A” that the prosecution referred to in court filings in the corruption case.
The Detroit News says Jones is accused of working with UAW aide Edward Robinson to embezzle millions in union member dues and splitting the money with him. Court records seen by the newspaper also indicate that Jones and his cohorts attempted to cover-up their alleged wrongdoings and obstruct the federal investigation.
Robinson, 72, was formally charged last week with conspiring with Jones and another individual, referred to the court filings as “UAW Official B,” to embezzle the member dues. The group allegedly spent the embezzled money on various luxury items such as private villas, rounds of golf, high-end golf gear, cigars and alcohol. The person referred to as “UAW Official B” is said to be former union President Dennis Williams, whose California home was raided by the FBI in August. It is believed that Robinson will plead guilty to the charges against him, The Detroit News says.
The Detroit News also reports that UAW Official A and Robinson once expressed concern about whether or not investigators had obtained potentially incriminating documents related to the alleged embezzlement scheme, with UAW Official A saying at the time that they wish they “burned” said records. Four months later, a fire broke out in UAW headquarters in Detroit. That fire allegedly started in the IT department of the union office.
The FBI raided the Michigan home of Jones earlier this year as part of the ongoing corruption probe. Jones has not yet been formally charged with anything in the investigation. He will have to reimburse the union for money received during his paid leave if he ends up being charged with any wrongdoing in the case.
During Jones’ leave, UAW vice president Rory Gamble, who is the head of the union’s Ford department, will step up to serve as interim president of the union. Gamble recently led the three-day negotiations between the UAW and Ford Motor Company. It is not yet clear if Jones will return to his position with the UAW in the future.