Two former Fiat Chrysler Automobile N.V. officials and one former leader of the United Auto Workers have been sentenced to prison terms, ranging from 12 months to 15 months, for their part in a conspiracy to violate federal labor law.
The sentences imposed on FCA’s Michael Brown and Jerome Durden as well as the UAW’s Keith Mickens come more than two years after the federal government announced indictments triggered by a scheme in which FCA officials used subterfuge to bribe union officials in a bid to secure labor peace.
Former FCA Vice President Alphons Iacobelli, a central figure in the case, was sentenced to five and a half years in a federal prison, while Monica Morgan, the widow of former UAW VP General Holiefield, one of the central figures in the scheme, was sentenced to 18 months prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to federal tax charges.
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Holiefield died in 2015, less than a year after ending his eight-year tenure as the head of the UAW’s Chrysler Department.
Holiefield’s government attorneys re-iterated during the hearing in U.S. District Court as the defendants were sentenced, he collected more than $700,000 from the scheme.
In separate hearings before Judge Paul Borman, lawyers for all three defendants pleaded for leniency and produced letters from friends, colleagues and clergymen noting they had exemplary lives that included community service.
Borman, however, would have none of it, saying that the seriousness of crimes, coupled with federal sentencing guidelines required prison time.
Mickens, who became the first UAW official convicted in connection with the scheme was at one time the third-ranking official in the UAW’s Chrysler Department. Mickens said he was deeply embarrassed by his conviction but David Gracey, one of the assistant U.S. attorneys prosecuting the case, noted the defendant had “betrayed” his UAW brothers and sisters with his actions. Mickens was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.
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Two other UAW officials, Virdell King and Nancy Johnson, pleaded guilty for their role in the conspiracy and at the hearing government attorney’s appeared to indicate more indictments are expected.
Borman noted that Brown, FCA’s former director of labor relations who earned a law degree at the University of Detroit, had deliberately lied to a federal grand jury early on in the government’s investigation of corruption in the case. Brown’s law degree made his crime worse since he knew better, Borman said. Brown also was sentenced to one year and a day in a federal penitentiary.
Durden, who served as the controller for the Chrysler-UAW training center, was sentenced to 15 months in prison despite his extensive cooperation with federal investigators. Erin Shaw, an assistant US attorney, noted that Durden had actively participated in the cover up of illicit payments to Holiefield, Morgan and others.
Judith Gracey, Durden’s lawyer, said that that the pattern of corruption inside the FCA-UAW relationship was established before her client took the job that led him to become ensnared in federal investigation.
Since the scandal first became public knowledge in 2016, the UAW itself has insisted the scandal was work of a small group of individual motivated by self-interest and greed.
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