One of two Fiat Chrysler officials charged with participating in conspiracy to defraud a joint FCA-UAW training fund of more than $2 million pleaded guilty in federal court and could face up to 37 months in prison when he is sentenced in December.
Jerome Durden, 61, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, a felony, and one misdemeanor charge of failing to file a tax return for the approximately $4,000 he received in 2013 from the conspiracy. Durden allegedly used the money to pay a credit-card bill.
Durden, who was a financial analyst at FCA, is expected to cooperate with prosecutors as they build their case against other conspirators, including Al Iacobelli, FCA’s former head of labor relations, and Monica Morgan, the wife of the late General Holiefield, former head of the UAW’s Fiat Chrysler department.
FCA has said it is considering filing a lawsuits Durden, Iacobelli and possibly any other FCA employee involved in the conspiracy. UAW President Dennis Williams also said this week that the UAW has taken steps to prevent funds being siphoned off from joint accounts in the future. The union not only has joint training funds with FCA, but also with General Motors and Ford.
(Marchionne hints FCA may sue former labor chief over alleged $2.2 million theft. For the story, Click Here.)
“While no union dues funds were involved and safeguards have since been put in place at the NTC, the allegations in the DOJ indictment are appalling,” UAW president Dennis Williams wrote in a column published in the Detroit Free Press and circulated by the UAW staff via twitter.
“A senior union leader allegedly conspired with Fiat Chrysler executives to misappropriate more than $2 million from the NTC for personal use. If true, these actions represent a grotesque betrayal of trust.
He added he became aware of the issues in January 2016 when federal law enforcement officials contacted the union, and began its own internal investigation. The UAW cooperated with the investigation and took steps to ensure this type of activity doesn’t occur again, he said.
(For our initial report on the indictments, Click Here.)
The 42-page federal indictment against Durden, Iacobelli and Morgan-Holiefield said Williams’ predecessor, Bob King, asked for records from the National Training Center, including General Holiefield’s credit-card records. But was blocked by FCA employees, among Durden and Iacobelli, who were responsible for maintaining the NTC accounts and financial records.
Iacobelli and Holiefield are alleged by the government to have embezzled millions from the FCA-UAW Joint Training Center in 2009–14.
Williams said as painful as these charges of criminal conduct have been for me and the entire union, our opponents “have gleefully pushed their PR machine into overdrive to besmirch the entire union based on the conduct of just a small handful of bad actors, and advance their anti-worker agenda.”
(Despite some problems, FCA doubled Q2 earnings. Click Here for the story.)
Williams added the union “cannot know for sure what role the indictments played in the election” last week at Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, which the union lost by more than 900 votes. “But there is no doubt it had an impact,” he said.