Another Fiat Chrysler executive pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the ongoing federal investigation of FCA leaders bribing key United Auto Workers officials to make it easier to gain their cooperation on labor-related issues in which the UAW had a voice.
Michael Brown, the third FCA official charged by the U.S. Depart of Justice, pleaded guilty to misprision of felony because he admitted to providing misleading and incomplete information to a federal grand jury when he asked specific questions of a conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act.
Brown, 60, a former senior executive on FCA’s labor relations staff and co-director of joint FCA-UAW training center, was accused lying to cover up a conspiracy in which FCA executives making illegal payments to UAW officers and staff members.
Under the plea agreement Brown as agreed to cooperate with the FBI and DOJ and can only be sentenced to 12–18 months. The plea agreement does not cover fines, which can be a maximum $250,000.
(UAW leaders struggling with credibility issues in wake of scandal. Click Here for the story.)
As part of the plea, Brown has also signed a separate cooperation agreement, in which he can aid federal investigators without facing additional criminal charges.
Brown’s federal plea agreement said he knew FCA “executives,” including former FCA vice president Alphons Iacobelli and financial analyst Jerome Durden, using credit card and bank accounts associated with the National Training Center to conceal more than $1.5 million in “prohibited payments and things of value” to UAW officers and employees.
When asked about the conspiracy in court Friday, Brown said he was aware that FCA executives provided “things of value” to UAW officials and members that included funds, illegal payments, salaries for individuals who didn’t do work and trips and vacations not related to work. The payments were made to gain influence with various union officials.
(Click Here for details about the Court cases exposing UAW to more charges by employees.)
During a meeting with reporters last week, UAW President Dennis Williams acknowledged the union was aware that there were problems inside the union’s Chrysler Department, led by General Holiefield, as early as 2013 when then UAW President Bob King removed one of Holifield’s top assistants.
However, the union was not made aware of the bribes and other misappropriations of the joint training funds until two years later when FCA finally released more detailed records of the joint-training centers accounts.
The union has instituted several steps to tighten controls on the training funds and the charitable activities that grew out of the funds, Williams said.
(To see more about the UAW membership increase in 2017, Click Here.)
However, Williams defended the joint training funds and the union role with the joint programs, saying they had done provided support for key programs and initiatives. The charities run be UAW officers helped children throughout any number of communities where the UAW is active.