DETROIT — Federal prosecutors on Monday filed new charges against former UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson, indicating that they expect him to plead guilty to embezzling member dues to pay for expensive cigars, golf equipment and other luxuries.
A guilty plea by Pearson could be an ominous sign for former UAW Presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams, particularly if Pearson agrees as part of a deal to provide information about them to investigators. Neither Jones nor Williams has been charged with a crime, but they reportedly are among the unnamed alleged coconspirators cited in the charges against Pearson.
Prosecutors filed the latest charges against Pearson in a criminal information, which means he is likely to plead guilty. Until now, Pearson had not indicated he would do so; he did not enter a plea during a court appearance in November.
Prosecutors met with Pearson in mid-November in an effort to convince him to plead guilty and aid their years-long corruption probe into the labor union, which to date has resulted in charges against 13 people, 11 of whom have pleaded guilty.
Pearson, 58, had been scheduled for a preliminary examination Monday before the new charges were filed, but the hearing was canceled.
The union, in a statement, said if the charges are true, Pearson "blatantly violated his oath of office and betrayed" its members.
"While our union is moving forward, we will never forget the costly lessons from our past," the statement said. "Under the leadership of President Rory Gamble, working tirelessly with the board, the UAW continues to implement a series of critical reforms necessary to strengthen the union's financial controls, oversight and its overall accounting system so this type of conduct cannot happen again."
Pearson, a 17-year union veteran who was first charged in September, resigned from his post and terminated his UAW membership in November, three days after the UAW's International Executive Board filed Article 30 charges against him and Jones, who also resigned his position and union membership.
The Article 30 charges against Jones corroborate reporting by The Detroit News that he is the alleged Pearson coconspirator identified in court documents as "UAW Official A."
The union said last month it would disband Region 5, which Pearson formerly led, and merge it into two adjacent regions next month.