"Today's guilty plea is one more leap forward in our drive to prosecute corruption at the highest levels of the United Auto Workers union," U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement. "The UAW needs to be led by men and women of integrity who are dedicated to bettering the lives of the hard-working members of the union, not dedicated to lining their own pockets."
Pearson avoided news cameras outside the courthouse after the hearing.
Scott Rosenblum, Pearson's lawyer, told reporters the decision to cooperate with the investigation was “the best decision for Mr. Pearson and his family.”
“Ultimately it’s going to be up to the judge,” he said. “We’re certainly going to make what we believe are compelling arguments for a favorable sentence.”
“He’s accepted responsibility and cooperating truthfully,” Rosenblum said.
“There’s a story to be told and I think we’ll begin telling that at sentencing.”
Pearson agreed to forfeit $81,000 from his "Flower Fund," which was to be used for the purchase of flowers for the funerals of UAW members and their families. The fund, made up of union contributions, has been exploited by UAW officials for their personal use, according to the statement.
Pearson also agreed to forfeit $38,000 held in a "Members in Solidarity" account, which was to be used for campaign expenses for UAW elections, along with a set of custom-made Titleist golf clubs, which was paid for with UAW dues.
"Vance Pearson blatantly violated his oath of office and betrayed the trust of all our hard-working members," the UAW said in a statement. "While our Union is moving forward, we will never forget the costly lessons from our past."