“All I can say is I am sorry.”
That’s what former United Auto Workers president Gary Jones told a federal judge during his sentencing hearing Thursday on embezzlement and tax evasion charges.
Federal Judge Paul Borman sentenced Jones to 28 months in prison, followed by two years supervised release. He will also have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution and fees. Jones may serve his sentence at a federal prison near his home in Texas.
The charges against Jones stem from a scheme to spend approximately $1.5 million in union money to buy luxury items like golf clubs, expensive dinners and trips to resorts for his personal use.
Prosecutors says there has been “a culture of corruption” in the UAW leadership.
Jones is the 16th defendant convicted in connection with the ongoing criminal investigation into corruption within the UAW or relating to illegal payoffs to UAW officials by Fiat Chrysler executives.
Jones has been cooperating with the federal investigation of the union. That cooperation could help him get an early release from prison.
The 28 months he was sentenced to serve under a plea agreement is nearly half of what the federal sentencing guidelines call for. Prosecutors told the judge Jones continues to assist in other matters, adding they may ask the court to recognize “that cooperation.”
At Jones’ sentencing hearing, prosecutors specifically noted Jones’ assistance with helping them win a conviction against former UAW president Dennis Williams.
“The fact that two former international UAW Presidents will be going to prison after being convicted of embezzling UAW dues money demonstrates that no one is above the law,” said Acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin. “The working men and women of the UAW can feel that justice was done, and that their union is on the road to reform.”
Last year, the U.S. Justice Department and the UAW entered into a Consent Decree that allows and independent monitor to oversee the union for the next six years.
The monitor will watch for fraud, corruption, and misconduct within the UAW.
In addition, the monitor will conduct and oversee a referendum of all UAW members to determine if the membership wants to adopt a direct election, also known as “one member, one vote,” method of electing the members of the UAW’s International Executive Board.