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Former auto workers union president charged with embezzling $1M

Former auto workers union president charged with embezzling $1M
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Former United Auto Workers (UAW) President Gary Jones was charged by federal prosecutors Thursday with embezzling more than $1 million of UAW funds for personal use.

The Detroit News reported Thursday that Jones could plead guilty to the charges in the weeks ahead. Several of his former aides have already admitted to stealing UAW funds for travel and other personal expenses.

He faces two counts, one involving conspiracy to embezzle union funds and another for using an interstate commerce facility to engage in racketeering. Both of the charges have maximum prison sentences of five years.

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The Detroit News reported that Jones is expected to cooperate as part of a deal reached with prosecutors into investigations into a number of current and former top union figures. One possible figure against whom Jones could cooperate is Jones's successor and current UAW president Rory Gamble, according to the newspaper, though UAW officials have disputed claims that Gamble is under investigation.

"The Detroit News continues to report unsubstantiated innuendo -- purportedly based on unnamed, unidentified, and anonymous “sources.” The federal government has never said or even suggested that President Gamble is a target of its investigation. To be clear: No one referred to in the Gary Jones charges, whether by name or by alias, is a current UAW official, Board member, or employee," said the UAW in a statement.

The investigation has so far touched numerous top UAW executives and reportedly pushed the autoworkers union to the brink of a federal takeover due to widespread corruption concerns. The union was accused last year of having been involved in a scheme in which automaker Fiat Chrysler allegedly bribed top UAW executives to allow newer workers to be paid at a lower rate, thereby cutting costs. Fiat Chrysler has denied the allegations.

Jones resigned from the union in November as members were moving to expel him over the embezzling controversy.

“After much discussion with his family and friends, Gary has elected to resign his position as UAW president and retire effective immediately,” Jones's lawyer said last year.

"His decision to do so was reached before learning of the internal charges filed earlier today by the UAW and was based on his belief that his continuing to serve will only distract the union from its core mission to improve the lives of its members and their families.”

Updated at 5:45 p.m.