As the specter of a federal takeover looms over the United Auto Workers (UAW) another union official has pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering before Judge Bernard Freidman of the U. S. District Court. UAW rank and file members reel from the fallout of another boss theft of their hard-earned, forced dues money.
Michael Grimes retired in 2018. The former United Auto Workers (UAW) administrative assistant and executive board member of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering before U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman. Grimes first eased the way for a vendor to sell UAW merchandise, in return for a home mortgage. He then forced the vendor to render him a monthly consulting fee.
The Judge also ordered Grimes to give up $1,509,500 in proceeds from his crimes and a $200 special assessment. Only former vice president Alfonse Iacobelli was found guilty of stealing a greater amount of money directly from union members and forced-dues payers.
Michael Grimes defended his crimes, claiming he was grieving over the loss of a loved one. In September, 2019 Grimes pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. His cooperation led prosecutors to ask for 28 months’ incarceration instead of the usual 46-57 months. Grimes will also serve a year of supervised probation. The 28-month sentence is the second longest sentence handed to a UAW boss in this ongoing scandal. Vice President Alfonse Iacobelli received 5.5 years in federal prison for his crimes.
Grimes was accused of conspiring with other union officials to accept bribes and kickbacks from union vendors and contracts involving millions of dollars. The kickbacks involved watches, backpacks, jackets and other promotional merchandise sold in a store on the factory premises. Judge Friedman commented on how Grimes’ spree would increase the cost of this merchandise for union members.
Claiming grief over the loss of a loved one as his reason, Grimes used the money to buy a Florida home costing almost $600,000, Tiffany jewelry, at least 2 cars, a 4-wheeler, a timeshare, 2 boats, commemorative coins and cosmetic surgery for a relative. All of the merchandise will be given up. No mention was made of the disposition of the cosmetic surgery.
Union members are angry and disillusioned about the tarnished reputation of the union brought on by this scandal. They are angry and frustrated that union bosses got away with using their forced dues and hard-earned money to enrich themselves. They are fearful more factories will close down because of the scandals, and of a possible federal takeover.
Tune in tomorrow for comments from real rank and file union members who have had enough.