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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 27, 2020

Former International UAW President Charged With Conspiring to Embezzle Union Funds

Dennis Williams, the former President of the international United Auto Workers union, was charged today in a Criminal Information with conspiring with other UAW officials to embezzle UAW funds announced U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.

Joining in the announcement were Irene Lindow, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, Steven M. D’Antuono, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit, Michigan office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sarah Kull, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit, Michigan office of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, and Thomas Murray, District Director, U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Dennis Williams, 67, of Corona, California, is charged with conspiring with former UAW President Gary Jones and others to embezzle UAW dues money between 2010 and September 2019.   

Between June 2014 and June 2018, Williams served as the President of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Workers of America (“UAW”).  The UAW represents over 400,000 active members and over 580,000 retired members in more than 600 local unions across the United States.  Prior to serving as UAW President, Williams was the Secretary-Treasurer of the UAW from June 2010 through June 2014.       

The Criminal Information charges that Williams conspired with at least six other senior UAW officials in a multi-year 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 Palm Springs, California, Coronado, California, and Missouri.  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.  In truth, however, Williams and his co-conspirators used the conferences to conceal the hundreds of thousands of dollars in UAW funds spent on lavish entertainment and personal spending for the conspirators. 

The Information charges that Williams and other senior UAW officials used UAW money to pay for personal expenses, including multi-month long stays at private villas in Palm Springs, 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 Gary Jones, Vance Pearson, and others provided themselves and Williams with thousands of dollars in such personal items.    

Based on the charge of conspiring to embezzle union funds, Williams faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

A Criminal Information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. 

Williams is the fifteenth defendant to be charged in connection with the ongoing criminal investigation into corruption within the UAW or relating to illegal payoffs to UAW officials by FCA executives.  The following individuals have already pleaded guilty to their participation in the scheme and have been sentenced:  former FCA Vice President for Employee Relations Alphons Iacobelli (66 months in prison), former FCA Financial Analyst Jerome Durden (15 months in prison), former Director of FCA’s Employee Relations Department Michael Brown (12 months in prison), former senior UAW officials Virdell King (60 days in prison), Keith Mickens (12 months in prison), Nancy A. Johnson (12 months in prison), Monica Morgan, the widow of UAW Vice President General Holiefield (18 months in prison), former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell (15 months in prison), and former senior UAW official Michael Grimes (28 moths).  In addition, the following UAW officials have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing:  former UAW President Gary Jones, former UAW Vice President Joseph Ashton, former senior UAW official Jeffrey “Paycheck” Pietrzyk, former UAW Region 5 Director UAW Board member Vance Pearson, and former UAW Midwest CAP President Edward “Nick” Robinson.           

U.S. Attorney Schneider commended the outstanding work of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in conducting a comprehensive criminal investigation into labor corruption activities involving a vital sector of the local and national economy.

“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,” said United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.  “The UAW’s members deserve leaders dedicated to serving the members and their families, not serving themselves.” 

“An important mission of the Office of Inspector General is to investigate allegations relating to labor racketeering. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of allegations,” stated Irene Lindow, Special Agent-in-Charge, Chicago Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.”

"As an officer and president of the UAW, Dennis Williams' union members trusted him to advocate for them. Instead, he trampled on that trust and used his position and influence to advocate for his own personal benefit," said Special Agent in Charge D'Antuono."Today, Williams begins to face the consequences of his choice to break that trust and fiduciary responsibility."

“Today’s charges underscores our commitment to work in a collaborative effort with our law enforcement partners to rid the UAW of corrupt officials,” said Special Agent in Charge, Sarah Kull, of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Detroit Field Office.

“Today’s information alleges a continuation of the outrageous abuse of power by former UAW top officers.  Former UAW International President Dennis Williams misused his position of trust to enrich himself and other officers within the UAW at the expense of the UAW’s hardworking members,” said Thomas Murray, District Director, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards.  “This information leaves no question as to the agency’s commitment to seek justice when anyone puts personal financial gain ahead of the best interests of union members.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Gardey, Steven Cares, and Adriana Dydell.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Updated August 27, 2020