Former UAW union official pleads guilty to wire fraud and money laundering: report

Former UAW union official pleads guilty to wire fraud and money laundering: report
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A former official with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting more than $1 million in kickbacks from union vendors, according to CNBC.

Michael Grimes, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges, could face up to 20 years in prison, with prosecutors recommending a sentence of 46 to 57 months. He will be sentenced in Detroit in January.

“The conduct admitted by Mr. Grimes in his plea today is shocking and absolutely disgraceful,” UAW said in a statement, adding that the union has since implemented reforms to its internal contracting process.

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Grimes worked in the union’s General Motors division, but the allegations do not claim his conduct was meant to impact the union’s negotiations with GM, according to CNBC.

Grimes’s attorney Michael Manley did not make clear whether his client’s plea came as part of a cooperation agreement.

“Mr. Grimes is devastated by his actions,” Manley told press after the Wednesday hearing. “He has over 30 years devoting his time to the UAW. He loves the UAW. He’s crushed by what he has done to their reputation and is owned up to his actions and is going to suffer great consequence because of that.”

Grimes is the first person charged in an ongoing Justice Department investigation of the UAW not affiliated with Fiat Chrysler. Court documents unsealed Aug. 14 showed he was one of three union officials identified as receiving kickbacks from vendors contracted to produce merchandise for the union.

The prosecutors did not identify the other figures, nor did Manley, who said he would “leave that up to the government to identify any person that is unnamed at this time,” according to CNBC.

The plea comes a week after federal agents raided the homes of UAW President Gary Jones and former President Dennis Williams. Jones has not been charged with any crime.