Dennis Williams is expected to plead guilty Wednesday afternoon in the ongoing corruption scandal, but the former UAW president has already resigned from the union.
Williams, 67, of Corona, California, is scheduled for an arraignment and plea hearing via video conference in federal court in Detroit on a charge of conspiracy to embezzle union funds. It carries a maximum five-year prison term and $250,000 fine if Williams is convicted on this charge, although the plea agreement would clarify what he’s really facing. Williams’ attorneys have not responded to multiple requests for comment.
The picture of corruption painted by prosecutors is familiar by now. While he was an officer in the UAW, ending in 2018, Williams received lots of goodies paid for by union funds — stays for him and his friends in Palm Springs, golf and golf clothing, meals, liquor and cigars, according to court documents
Williams is the second former UAW president to be charged in the corruption scandal, which has nabbed 15 former union or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials to date. Williams’ successor as president, Gary Jones, is awaiting sentencing. The scandal has forced the UAW into talks with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit, which could lead to various reforms, including direct elections of top union leaders.
Regarding Williams’ position with the union, the UAW said it “demanded Williams fully resign from his membership with the union or face charges under Article 31 of the UAW Constitution to remove him from our membership. On September 18, 2020, pursuant to that demand from the International Executive Board, Williams resigned his UAW membership effective immediately.”
The board had previously voted to stop paying for Williams’ attorney (his legal fees in 2019 alone were listed at more than $320,000, according to a UAW filing) and decided to have him repay more than $56,000 “spent for housing and related travel expenses while he was in office that were determined to be personal in nature.”
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The union noted that “Williams will be required to repay the UAW for all legal fees paid by the Union on his behalf or face legal action, and Williams will be required to repay any further Union funds he wrongly took or misspent.”
The news that Williams had resigned his position earlier in the month followed a news release from an activist group within the UAW, Unite All Workers for Democracy, which blasted the union’s International Executive Board for not filing union charges against Williams earlier. According to the release, the union’s independent Public Review Board remanded the case prompted by a complaint on the matter back to the IEB, saying “that enforcement of the (union’s) Ethical Practices Codes is not dependent upon whether the government has brought criminal charges against a union officer or member; rather, the union has an independent duty to regulate itself under the codes.”
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