Gary Jones, the disgraced former president of the United Auto Workers, has pleaded guilty to multiple charges after he was arrested as part of the FBI’s ongoing corruption probe into the labor union.
Jones is one of several high-ranking UAW members to have been brought down in the FBI’s investigation. He and a number of his aides are accused of using union dues and other union funds to pay for personal expenses that included high-priced dinners, top-shelf booze, cigars, luxury villas, golf trips and golf equipment, among more. He was arraigned on charges of racketeering, embezzlement and tax fraud in Detroit federal court in May and this week plead guilty to the charges via a Zoom conference call, The Detroit Free Press reports.
During the hearing, Judge Paul Borman said the U.S. District Court in Detroit plans to order restitution “to every identifiable victim,” of Jones numerous offenses, which will include $42,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. Judge Borman also put in place a forfeiture order for $116,000 from Jones’ accounts, along with a set of golf clubs that were purchased using UAW money.
The U.S. Attorney’s office also provided a more complete description of the ways that Jones used the UAW funds for his own gain this week. Among the personal items he expensed were golf equipment, green fees, high-end liquor and cigars. The feds made particular note of the tobacco-related expenses, with Jones purchasing over $13,000 worth of cigars with UAW money in just one year. In all, the 63-year old is believed to have spent roughly $750,000 of UAW funds, with his cohorts and him embezzling a total of around $1.5 million combined.
Current UAW president Rory Gamble, who is also believed to be under federal investigation as part of the ongoing corruption probe, denounced Jones’ actions in a statement released this week.
“Former President Gary Jones and others abused their high-ranking positions and violated the trust of our members,” Gamble said. “Their actions were selfish, immoral and against everything we stand for as a union.”
The FBI’s investigation into the UAW is not yet complete, but U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said the government will now shift more of its focus to reforming the union and setting it up for future success.
“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. “I look forward to meeting with UAW President Rory Gamble as soon as possible to have these important discussions.”
Jones sentencing is scheduled for October 2020. General Motors has not commented on his guilty plea, though the automaker said previously that it was ““outraged and deeply concerned by the conduct of union officials as uncovered by the government’s investigation.”