According to The Detroit Free Press, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman sentened Ashton to months in prison on Tuesday following an hour-plus long video conference over Zoom. Ashton was found to have given an associate of his a $4 million contract to produce roughly 58,000 watches with GM and UAW branding etched into the face. He later forced the person into giving him a $250,000 kickback in exchange for funneling the watch contract to them. The watches were never distributed to UAW members and instead sat unsued on pallets in a storage room at the UAW Training Center in downtown Detroit.
“Today’s sentence of former UAW Member Joe Ashton is appropriate,” the UAW said in a statement released after Ashton’s sentencing. “Mr. Ashton’s crimes defy everything we stand for as a union and demonstrate his lack of respect for the oath of office he took and the rank-and-file members he represented. Under the leadership of UAW President Rory L. Gamble and our International Executive Board, the UAW continues to focus on comprehensively reviewing and strengthening our union’s financial controls and accounting oversight, and have embraced the implementation of a myriad of new policies and controls to restore the full faith and trust of our more than 400,000 members across the country.”
Ashton is also at the center of GM’s lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The automaker has accused Ashton of being a “paid mole” on its board, which he was appointed to in 2014, saying he received payment from FCA through offshore accounts in exchange for providing it with various information and intel on GM’s operations. FCA has denied paying Ashton to provide it with GM’s trade secrets and also likened the claims in GM’s lawsuit to a “third-rate spy movie.” GM filed an appeal to have the lawsuit reinstated after a judge dismissed it and has also filed a separate state-level suit against FCA.