Jeff “Paycheck” Pietrzyk, aide to former United Auto Workers Vice President Joe Ashton, was sentenced after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and another count of conspiring to launder money. Pietrzyk is the eleventh person charged and the tenth person to plead guilty in the ongoing federal probe into corruption within the UAW.
Pietrzyk pleaded guilty on information filed by the prosecutor, which means he waived his fifth amendment right to a trial by jury. As a part of his plea agreement, he cannot appeal.
Pietrzyk admitted to receiving $123,000 in bribes and kickbacks, and arranging kickbacks for other high-ranking UAW officials. He also admitted to defrauding UAW-GM’s Center for Human Resources along with Mike Grimes. He also admitted to depositing checks from the kickbacks into his personal bank account. The kickbacks mainly came from contracts with vendors, including a $6 million jacket contract and a $4 million watch contract that Pietrzyk received cuts of.
Robert Singer is Pietrzyk’s attorney. He said Pietrzyk is pleading guilty, not just because of a compelling case against him, but because it’s the right thing to do.
“Jeffrey wants to apologize to his family, he wants to apologize to the union members that he didn't feel he served faithfully,” he said. “He wanted to accept responsibility, and that’s part of the process of what we went through today.”
When asked why Pietrzyk did what he did, Singer said, “He was approached by someone who was in power over him, and asked to do something, and he did it. And that wasn't the best choice, and it's something that he regrets.”
Singer was also asked as to whether this frustrated Pietrzyk, that other officials had done more than he had and he was still taking the heat for it.
“There’s no frustration," Singer said. "What he did was a violation of the law and that’s why he pled guilty.”
Singer said he could neither confirm nor deny Pietrzyk’s cooperation or participation with U.S. attorneys in their ongoing probe of corruption in the UAW.
The government-recommended sentence for Pietrzyk was between 24 and 30 months in prison, with the possibility of supervised release. His sentence will be determined on March 4, 2020 in Detroit.