After a lengthy probe, federal authorities charged former United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams with conspiring with other UAW officials to embezzle UAW funds. More than a dozen top former UAW leaders have been implicated during the multiyear investigation.
Williams, 67, who now lives in Corona, California, is charged with conspiring with former UAW President Gary Jones and others to embezzle UAW dues money between 2010 and September 2019. Prior to serving as UAW President, Williams was the Secretary-Treasurer of the UAW from June 2010 through June 2014.
The Criminal Information, a document filed by federal investigators that usually implies a guilty plea is coming, alleges Williams conspired with at least six other senior UAW officials in a nearly decade-long conspiracy to embezzle money from the UAW for the personal benefit of Williams and other senior UAW officials. UAW officials concealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenditures in the cost of UAW conferences held in California and Missouri.
“The charges today are further steps forward in our relentless effort to ensure that the over 400,000 men and women of the UAW have honest and ethical leadership,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement. “The UAW’s members deserve leaders dedicated to serving the members and their families, not serving themselves.”
Between 2010 and 2018, former UAW President and co-defendant Gary Jones and other UAW officials submitted fraudulent expense forms seeking reimbursement from the UAW’s Detroit headquarters for expenditures supposedly incurred in connection with UAW leadership and training conferences.
Williams and his coconspirators used the conferences to conceal the hundreds of thousands of dollars in UAW funds spent on lavish entertainment and personal spending for the conspirators, according to the federal prosecutors.
The Information charges that Williams and other senior UAW officials used UAW money to pay for personal expenses, including multi-monthlong stays at private villas in Palm Springs, California, cigars, golfing apparel, green fees at golf courses, and high-end liquor and meals.
During the course of the conspiracy, while Williams was UAW President, co-conspirators Jones, Vance Pearson, and others provided themselves and Williams with thousands of dollars in such personal items, prosecutors charged.
Much of the information being used against Williams appears to have come from Jones, who succeeded Williams as UAW President in 2018.
Jones pleaded guilty to siphoning off more than $1 million in dues money and political funds for personal use in a long-running conspiracy centered around UAW Region 5 where Jones once served as assistant director then as regional director before becoming UAW president in large part thanks to Williams’ endorsement.
Jones, who resigned as UAW president in December, is scheduled to be sentenced in October and experts have said one of the key ways that convicted defendants can avoid stiff sentences is by providing federal authorities with information about other potential defendants.
“We are aware of criminal charges filed against former UAW President Dennis Williams. Any violation of Mr. Williams’ oath of office and his responsibility to oversee our members and their sacred dues money, should rightfully face criminal penalty,” the UAW said in a statement. “Today’s development is a sad day for UAW members. But it is also a humbling day of truth and justice demonstrating that no one is above the law, regardless of their position,” the statement added.