Former United Auto Workers (UAW) President Dennis Williams is scheduled to plead guilty on Sept. 30 and become the second retired union leader convicted of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on personal luxuries.
The plea hearing was set Wednesday in federal court, two weeks after Williams became the 15th person charged in a years-long crackdown on corruption within the U.S. auto industry.
The embezzlement scheme involving Williams and his successor, former UAW President Gary Jones, has revealed labor leaders and auto executives broke federal labor laws, stole union funds and received bribes and illegal benefits from union contractors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV executives.
The criminal investigation is ongoing. Prosecutors and UAW leaders are negotiating a possible deal that could include prolonged federal oversight aimed at eliminating corruption within the union and implementing reforms.
Williams, 67, of Corona, Calif., was charged with conspiracy to embezzle union funds, a felony punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
The criminal filing capped a prolonged period of uncertainty for Williams, who retired in June 2018. He was publicly implicated in the corruption scandal the next month when The Detroit News named Williams as the unidentified UAW official accused in a federal court filing of illegally ordering underlings to offload entertainment and travel expenses to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The conspiracy outlined by federal prosecutors started in 2010, when Williams was the UAW’s secretary/treasurer, and lasted until September. The conspiracy involved top leaders in the UAW assigned to Detroit and a regional office in Missouri.
Williams and his co-conspirators spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lavish entertainment, private villas, meals, cigars, golf and more during UAW junkets, prosecutors said. And the union bosses hid the expense from members.
There were at least seven members of the conspiracy, prosecutors said. That includes Jones, who pleaded guilty earlier this year and is awaiting a federal prison sentence. Other members include Jones aides Vance Pearson, who oversaw the UAW’s regional office in Missouri, and Nick Robinson, who worked at that office.
Prosecutors use letters to refer to three other members of the conspiracy who have not been charged. The News has previously identified them as: Former Jones aide Danny Trull, aka “UAW Official C.” Former Williams aide Amy Loasching, aka “UAW Official D,” whose home in Wisconsin was raided by federal agents last year.
The late Missouri regional Director Jim Wells, aka “UAW Official E.” Wells died in 2012.