Former UAW official pleads guilty to accepting kickbacks




Former UAW official pleads guilty to accepting kickbacks


By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Former United Auto Workers vice president Joseph Ashton pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud as part of a wide-ranging federal corruption probe into the union.

Ashton, a former General Motors Co (NYSE:GM) board member, was charged last month with conspiring with other union officials to receive "hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks" according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Ashton, when asked by the judge whether he was pleading guilty because he was guilty, responded "Yes, your honor." He declined to comment after the brief hearing.

"Sometimes you just find that good people just make really bad decisions," Ashton's attorney, Jerome Ballarotto, told reporters.

"He has asked me to apologize to all the members of the UAW," Ballarotto said of Ashton.

Under the plea agreement, Ashton faces prison time of 30 to 37 months, although his attorney said they will seek a lower sentence. Ashton, who left the GM board in December 2017 amid the federal investigation, also has agreed to forfeit the $250,000 in kickbacks he received.

Ashton will be sentenced on March 3. The deal did not include any language about cooperation in other cases related to the federal corruption probe.

The FBI has been conducting an investigation into illegal payoffs to UAW officials by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Eleven people have pleaded guilty in connection with the probe.

The widening probe raises questions about whether the U.S. government might seek to take over the UAW.

In addition, the federal probe led GM last month to file a racketeering lawsuit against FCA, accusing its rival of bribing UAW officials to gain advantages, costing GM billions of dollars. FCA, which is working on a planned merger with France's PSA, brushed off the suit as meritless.

Federal prosecutors said Ashton and other UAW officials steered an inflated $4 million contract to a vendor to provide 58,000 watches to UAW members. The watches were never distributed and remain in storage in Detroit.

Last month, former UAW president Gary Jones, who has been linked to the federal probe, resigned his position and subsequently left the union.

The UAW said on Wednesday Ashton's crimes "demonstrate his self-interest, and signify his lack of respect for the oath he took."

GM reiterated on Wednesday it was not aware of Ashton's illegal activity until it was revealed by the government's probe. “The criminal conduct Joe Ashton admitted to is outrageous," the company said in a statement.





Related News

NFL notebook: Giants officially give Manning starting nod
Today, 02:09
Eli Manning will start at quarterback for the New York Giants against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night in place of rookie Daniel Jones, who has been ruled out with a high-ankle sprain, the team announced Saturday. Manning, 38, has not started
North Korea carries out 'very significant' test at satellite launch site: KCNA
Today, 02:06
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has carried out a "very significant" test at its Sohae satellite launch site, state media KCNA reported on Sunday, a rocket testing ground that U.S. officials once said North Korea had promised to close. The
Australian firefighters try to control bushfires ahead of hot days
Today, 02:03
By Lidia Kelly MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Firefighters in eastern Australia used easing weather conditions on Sunday to bring bushfires under control ahead of forecast of soaring temperatures for next week. There were 96 fires burning in New South Wales,
Hong Kong gears up for mass rally as government appeals for calm
Today, 01:03
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong was gearing up for a mass rally on Sunday that is expected to gauge support for pro-democracy demonstrations in the Chinese-ruled city as the government appealed to people to express their views peacefully. Police
Shooting near Mexico's presidential residence leaves four dead - local media
Today, 00:06
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A shooting on Saturday near Mexico's National Palace, the president's residence in the capital's historic downtown, has left four people dead and two people injured, Foro TV reported. Mexican President Andres



Latest News
NFL notebook: Giants officially give Manning starting nod
08.12.2019 02:09
Eli Manning will start at quarterback for the New York Giants against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night in place of rookie Daniel Jones, who has been ruled out with a high-ankle sprain, the team announced Saturday. Manning, 38, has not started since Week 2. He passed for 556 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions before the Giants
Read more
North Korea carries out 'very significant' test at satellite launch site: KCNA
08.12.2019 02:06
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has carried out a "very significant" test at its Sohae satellite launch site, state media KCNA reported on Sunday, a rocket testing ground that U.S. officials once said North Korea had promised to close. The KCNA report did not specify what was tested, but the site has previously been used to launch rockets
Read more
Australian firefighters try to control bushfires ahead of hot days
08.12.2019 02:03
By Lidia Kelly MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Firefighters in eastern Australia used easing weather conditions on Sunday to bring bushfires under control ahead of forecast of soaring temperatures for next week. There were 96 fires burning in New South Wales, home to Australia's largest city of Sydney, with only about a half contained and more than
Read more
Hong Kong gears up for mass rally as government appeals for calm
08.12.2019 01:03
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong was gearing up for a mass rally on Sunday that is expected to gauge support for pro-democracy demonstrations in the Chinese-ruled city as the government appealed to people to express their views peacefully. Police gave the green light to Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) - organizer of largely peaceful million-strong
Read more
Shooting near Mexico's presidential residence leaves four dead - local media
08.12.2019 00:06
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A shooting on Saturday near Mexico's National Palace, the president's residence in the capital's historic downtown, has left four people dead and two people injured, Foro TV reported. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was traveling on Saturday.
Read more