Fiat Chrysler official paid off UAW honcho's mortgage
The wife of a former union executive and a former vice president at Fiat Chrysler have been indicted for allegedly violating federal labor law in connection to a bribery investigation.
The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that federal prosecutors filed charges against Monica Morgan, the wife of the late United Auto Workers Vice President General Holiefield, and former Fiat Chrysler Vice President Alphons Iacobelli for violating the Labor Management Relations Act.
Iacobelli, who was in charge of negotiating with the UAW, allegedly directed $1.2 million to union leaders in the form of jewelry, travel, furniture, and other goods, according to the charges published by the Labor Department on Friday. Iacobelli went so far as to pay off the $262,219 mortgage balance on the home owned by Morgan and Holiefield, who died in 2015. The payments came as the union negotiated collective bargaining agreements with the company in 2011 and 2015.
"Officers and employees of the UAW would willfully request, receive, and accept—and agree to receive and accept—money and things of value from employer FCA," according to the charges. Iacobelli "unlawfully paid and delivered more than $1.2 million in prohibited payments and things of value, directly and indirectly, to UAW Vice President Genbral Holiefield and other UAW employees."
Neither Morgan nor Iacobelli returned requests for comment.
Iacobelli used a training center funded by Fiat Chrysler as a front for paying off union officials that were in charge of negotiating with the automaker, according to the charges. From 2009 to 2014, the automaker spent between $13 and $31 million each year on the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating workers in the industry. Iacobelli used some of that funding to pay off union leaders, directing "hundreds of thousands of dollars in NTC funding to pay for personal travel, personal purchases and personal expenditures of UAW Vice President General Holiefiled and other UAW officials, their family members and their associates."
Union officials were not the only beneficiaries from the center's largesse. Iacobelli also personally took in more than $1 million to purchase luxury goods. He allegedly purchased a $350,000 Ferrari 458 Spider, two Mont Blanc pens for $75,000, as well as costly renovations to his pool and house.
FBI special agent David P. Gelios, who led the investigation, called the alleged corruption part of "a disturbing criminal collaboration" between union and auto executives.
"The funds misapplied deprived working men and women of critical workforce and professional development opportunities and calls into question the integrity of contracts negotiated during the course of this criminal conspiracy," he said in a release. "The FBI and our federal partners will remain vigilant in our efforts to expose those who participate in corrupt fraud schemes which jeopardize our region's economic vitality and our faith in honest business practices."
Ian Burg, district director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, said that the department is vigilant in "combatting financial malfeasance" in order to protect the "financial integrity in labor unions.
"This indictment leaves no question as to the agency’s commitment to seek justice when anyone puts personal financial gain ahead of the best interests of union members," Burg said in a statement released on Friday.