Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged a former president of the United Auto Workers union, Dennis Williams, with conspiring to embezzle union funds for personal expenses and luxury travel. He is the 15th person accused in a broad investigation into corruption at the union.
Mr. Williams, 67, the U.A.W. president from 2014 to 2018, used union money to pay for private villas in Palm Springs, Calif., expensive cigars, golfing apparel, green fees at golf courses and lavish dinners, according to documents filed by prosecutors in federal court in Detroit.
The Justice Department contends that Mr. Williams conspired with his successor, Gary Jones, who pleaded guilty to similar charges in June, and several other senior U.A.W. officials.
“The charges today are further steps forward in our relentless effort to ensure that the over 400,000 men and women of the U.A.W. have honest and ethical leadership,” Matthew J. Schneider, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said in a statement. “The U.A.W.’s members deserve leaders dedicated to serving the members and their families, not serving themselves.”
The investigation of the U.A.W. dates back to at least 2015 and has resulted in guilty pleas from at least 11 union officials and three former executives of Fiat Chrysler.
Under a cooperation agreement reached with federal prosecutors, Mr. Jones acknowledged using more than $1 million in union funds for vacation rentals, golf outings, clothing, liquor and expensive meals. According to prosecutors, Mr. Jones spent some $60,000 just on cigars and smoking paraphernalia.
The plea agreement indicated that a U.A.W. officer, whom court filings refer to as Official B, had urged using union money in ways that would benefit himself and other officials. Union officials have previously confirmed that Official B is Mr. Williams.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.