Federal agents on Wednesday raided the suburban Detroit-area home of United Auto Workers (UAW) union president Gary Jones amid a corruption investigation into kickbacks and embezzlement by union executives, according to KSL.com.
FBI spokeswoman Mara Schneider confirmed the search but declined further comment. TV stations aired video of agents outside Jones' home. Agents also searched the Corona, California, home of former UAW President Dennis Williams and the union's northern Michigan retreat.
Eight people have pleaded guilty in an investigation of union officials and Fiat Chrysler executives enriching themselves with money from a job training center in Detroit. The probe appeared to widen two weeks ago when a former UAW official was charged with accepting kickbacks from union vendors. Mike Grimes was associated with a UAW-General Motors training center. -KSL.com
The UAW responded to the raid in Canton Township, saying in a Wednesday statement "President Jones is determined to uncover and address any and all wrongdoing, wherever it might lead ... There was absolutely no need for search warrants to be used by the government today."
"The UAW has voluntarily responded to every request the government has made throughout the course of its investigation, produced literally hundreds of thousands of documents and other materials to the government, and most importantly, when wrongdoing has been discovered, we have taken strong action to address it," the union added.
According to the report, UAW has faced "unflattering stories about senior leaders turning the UAW-Fiat Chrysler center into a personal piggy bank," such as a $262,000 mortgage that union rep General Holiefield had paid off in 2014 after negotiating with Fiat Chrysler on behalf of the union. Holiefield died in 2015.
Holiefield's replacement, Norwood Jewell, was just sentenced to 15 months in prison for listing $60,000 in meals and golf paid with UAW credit cards, along with an additional $40,000 in other purchases.
Fiat Chrysler's former chief negotiator, Al Lacobelli, is serving a 5 1/2 year sentence and was ordered to pay $835,000.
"Profit-laden auto companies stand to benefit from media leaks, false assumptions and political grandstanding," the UAW added in their statement. "The sole focus of president Jones and his team will be winning at the bargaining table for our members."