Big Labor has spent decades fighting a reputation for dealing under the table. A recent guilty plea by the former president of the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) is going to keep that assessment intact as a federal investigation continues to pull in high-level union officials.
In early June, 2020, Gary Jones, former UAW president pled guilty to conspiracy counts for tax fraud, evasion, and racketeering. Mr. Jones has agreed to fully cooperate with federal authorities in the hopes of receiving a more lenient sentence in October of this year. Without the cooperation agreement, Mr. Jones faces a maximum of ten years in prison and a sizeable fine.
What happened? The federal-level investigation into the UAW is now in its fifth year and still rolling. In addition to Mr. Jones, the criminal tax investigation has ensnared executives from Fiat Chrysler and at least a baker’s dozen of senior union officials. Some of the back-office revelations in this case include:
- Jones and six other union officials admitted to embezzling at least one million dollars from the union for an array of personal expenses including travel, accommodation, liquor, meals, golf, and clothing. In other words, perks.
- According to The New York Times, Mr. Jones spent $60,000 on cigars and accessories during his tenure as an officer for the UAW.
- Like many people charged after an IRS criminal investigation, downfall is owed to the fraudulent tax returns that must be filed to cover up income that is impossible to explain. In this case, Mr. Jones is forfeiting $140,000 of the money he pilfered from the organization that he led.
Despite the grandiose behavior of Mr. Jones with the money of others, authorities continue to pry up and expose related deals involving endorsements, home-improvement, and vacation homes built by and for other union officials. It is likely the testimony of Mr. Jones will hasten the light of day on some of these dealings.
Embezzling money from a business or organization for personal benefit is nothing new. The names may change, but the criminal tax charges pretty much stay the same. If you are aware of tax improprieties in your company—or trade group—talk to an experienced criminal tax attorney in time to protect yourself and your reputation.
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