DETROIT — Federal prosecutors have charged Joe Ashton, who headed the UAW's 2011 negotiations with General Motors and was on GM's board for three years, with money laundering and wire fraud.
Ashton, who retired from the UAW in 2014, is the 13th person charged in the corruption scandal involving misuse of union funds. UAW President Gary Jones, reportedly implicated in the probe, began a paid leave of absence on Sunday but has not been charged with a crime. Rory Gamble, the UAW's vice president overseeing the Ford department, was named interim president.
According to prosecutors, Ashton "conspired with Michael Grimes and Jeffery Pietrzyk to devise a scheme to defraud" UAW members and the jointly run UAW-GM Center for Human Resources. Pietrzyk and Grimes have pleaded guilty to charges related to the scandal, and the union and GM agreed in their recently-ratified contract to shut down the Center for Human Resources and sell the building, while restructuring its training center activities.
Prosecutors say that, between 2012-2016, Ashton, Grimes and Pietrzyk used their positions “to personally enrich themselves by deceptively soliciting, influencing and obtaining a contract” for an unnamed vendor to provide watches to the union, and in turn accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.