U.S. prosecutors charge former UAW VP in corruption investigation

Former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell was charged Monday by federal prosecutors for allegedly misusing and approving tens of thousands of dollars in training center funds.

Jewell, according to a federal filing on Monday, violated the Labor Management Relations Act by receiving more than $40,000 worth of travel, lodging and meals from people acting on behalf of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles from at least 2014 to 2016.

Neither the FBI, the union nor a lawyer representing Jewell would immediately comment.

Jewell, who abruptly retired at the end of 2017, is the highest-ranking UAW figure charged with a crime. Seven others — two from FCA and five associated with the union — have been convicted and pleaded guilty to charges in connection to the multiyear investigation.

Jewell was first implicated in the widening scandal several months ago and Monday’s action had been widely expected.

The UAW in a statement said it was “deeply saddened” by the news, and that it has “already implemented many reforms and enacted new policies to prevent any misuse of funds at the joint program centers from ever happening again.”

FCA reiterated in a statement on Monday that it “was a victim of illegal conduct by certain rogue individuals who formerly held leadership roles at the National Training Center.” The automaker also said the behavior of a “a small number of bad actors” did not have an impact on collective bargaining.

Jewell is in discussions with prosecutors “towards a fair and just resolution” of the case, his attorney, Michael Manley, said in a message. “We are confident that when the facts of the case come out as it relates to Mr. Jewell, his decades-long reputation of honorable service to members of the UAW will remain intact.”

Jewell began leading the union’s FCA Department in June 2014, following the retirement of General Holiefield, who died in March 2015 and led the department from June 2006 to June 2014. Federal prosecutors have painted Holiefield and his wife, Monica Morgan, as key figures in the scandal.

Morgan was sentenced in July to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to a tax charge for hiding $201,000 on her 2011 taxes.

The federal investigation was first made public in July 2017. It centered on the misuse of a jointly operated training center in Detroit known as the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center.

Since then, prosecutors have turned attention to the facility, including use of credit cards and donations to personal charities headed by union officials, being an avenue for company officials to siphon money to union representatives to keep them “fat, dumb and happy.”

Prosecutors have attempted to connect the funds to union leaders taking company-friendly positions during collective bargaining negotiations with the automaker — something the union has adamantly denied due to large negotiation teams and checks and balances such as membership voting on such deals.

The current UAW contracts with the Detroit 3 automakers are due to expire in September.

Crain’s Detroit Business | March 18, 2019
https://www.crainsdetroit.com/news/us-prosecutors-charge-former-uaw-vp-corruption-investigation