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Fiat Chrysler will plead to criminal charge in UAW corruption scandal

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Fiat Chrysler has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the federal Labor Management Relations Act, also known as the Taft-Hartley Act, and pay a $30 million fine, for bribing United Auto Workers officials.

The company has also agreed to the appointment of a compliance monitor for three years.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider says FCA hoped to gain more favorable contracts with the union by bribing some of its top officials with cash and numerous gifts, including rounds of golf, lavish meals, and even paying off the $262,000 home mortgage of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield.  Holiefield died before he could be charged.

Schneider says the Taft-Hartley Act was passed to ensure that union rank-and-file members could trust the integrity of the collective bargaining process.

"FCA officials, by improperly giving lavish gifts and cash to UAW leaders, violated that principle," he said.

Schneider declined to answer if former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was involved in the bribery scheme. Marchionne died in 2018.

The corruption investigation initially began more than four years ago, with the indictment of an FCA official who helped union officials file false IRS returns to hide their illicit spoils.

But the investigation also uncovered other kinds of illegal activities not involving Fiat Chrysler, like embezzlement of union dues by top leaders, including former UAW Presidents Dennis Williams and Gary Jones, to pay for villa rentals, lavish parties, golf clubs and fees, costly cigars, and other luxuries.

Fiat Chrysler officially merged last week with PSA Group and is now part of Stellantis, a global auto company.

An FBI investigation into activities at Ford Motor Company continues.  No charges have been filed thus far.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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