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Former UAW president Gary Jones pleads guilty to federal charges

United Auto Workers

A former UAW president faces prison time after pleading guilty Wednesday to charges including embezzlement, racketeering and tax evasion.

When he’s sentenced in October, Gary Jonescould get up to five years on each of two counts and fined a quarter million dollars, though the sentence will likely be less, since Jones has agreed to cooperate with a federal investigation into the union.

The crimes took place before Jones was the president of the auto workers union, back when he was its Region 5 director.

Jones admits to conspiring with at least six other high-level UAW officials in a multi-year conspiracy to embezzle money from the UAW for their personal benefit. The money was used to pay for personal expenses, including golf clubs, private villas, cigars and high-end liquor and meals costing over $750,000 in UAW funds.

During the brief court hearing, Jones read a statement apologizing to the “UAW family” and his own family. 

“I recognize actions violated the law as well as my sworn obligation to my fellow union members. I apologize to my UAW family for the betrayal of their trust and pray they’ll forgive me. I’m deeply sorry for the heartbreak and disappointment I’ve cause my wife and daughters and their families.”

More than a dozen union officials have been convicted as part ofthe federal investigation.

Current UAW President Rory Gamble describes the actions of Jones and others involved as “selfish, immoral, and against everything we stand for as a Union.”

“As we close this chapter, we will continue to focus on implementing the necessary reforms to protect our members. Since my appointment as president, the UAW has instituted and operates under new transparency including far-reaching ethical and financial oversight and accountability. While these reforms are just the beginning, they are significant and will be expanded upon to ensure the crimes we've seen never happen again.”

But this may not be the final chapter.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider indicates the U.S. Justice Department is moving into a new direction.

“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. I look forward to meeting with UAW President Rory Gamble as soon as possible to have these important discussions.”

If the UAW doesn’t do more to reform itself, prosecutors hint at a possible federal takeover. 

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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