UAW president among subjects of corruption investigation, report says

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DETROIT — The FBI is investigating UAW President Gary Jones, whose home was raided this week by federal agents, over allegations of financial crimes, The Detroit News reported Thursday.

Sources told the newspaper that investigators are looking into whether Jones or other UAW officials spent member dues on junkets to California and other potential wrongdoing.

The report said Jones’ nonprofit organization — the now-defunct 5 Game Changers Charity Fund — received $20,000 from a charity linked to Joe Ashton, a former UAW vice president in its General Motors department. Ashton, also a former member of the GM board of directors, has previously been identified by the newspaper as a target in the ongoing investigation that has resulted in convictions of eight people so far.

In a statement, the UAW denied any wrongdoing.

“The money received by 5 Game Changers from the Ashton Fund was donated to local charities, like Heartland Habitat for Humanity in Kansas City, Mo., and Arlington Life Shelter in Texas,” the statement said. “And 5 Game Changers, a small tax-exempt charity, has filed all the appropriate IRS forms detailing its finances. Any suggestion that 5 Game Changers acted inappropriately is simply false.”

Automotive News reported in February 2018 that several UAW officials let their personal nonprofit organizations go idle. A source familiar with the federal investigation at the time said nonprofits linked to union leaders were an area of interest in the investigation.

The investigation initially focused on a training center jointly run by the UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles but expanded several months ago to other operations.

The investigation has ramped up in recent weeks as the UAW engages in contract talks with the Detroit 3. The UAW’s contracts with the automakers expire Sept. 14.

So far, nine FCA and UAW officials have been charged in the scandal, including former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell and former FCA executive Alphons Iacobelli. Michael Grimes, an assistant in the UAW’s General Motors department, this month was the first UAW official outside of the FCA department to be charged. Eight people have received prison sentences stemming from the probe.

On Wednesday, the FBI raided Jones’ suburban Detroit home, a UAW regional office he commanded in Missouri, the home of another union official who helped run a nonprofit charity Jones began and three other UAW locations in the U.S.

The search-warrant documents are sealed in federal court.

“There was absolutely no need for search warrants to be used by the government today,” the UAW said in a statement Wednesday. “The UAW has voluntarily responded to every request the government has made throughout the course of its investigation, produced literally hundreds of thousands of documents and other materials to the government, and most importantly, when wrongdoing has been discovered, we have taken strong action to address it.

“The UAW will continue to cooperate with the government in its investigation, as we have been doing throughout.”

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