DETROIT -- UAW regional director Vance Pearson, facing federal corruption charges and a move by the union to remove him from office, has resigned his position along with his UAW membership.
Federal prosecutors filed charges against Pearson, 58, on Sept. 12 and he was placed on paid leave Oct. 4. The UAW, in a statement released Sunday, said his resignation was effective immediately.
Pearson and former UAW President Gary Jones last week were both hit with so-called Article 30 charges by the UAW's International Executive Board. Jones -- who has not been charged with a crime but has been implicated in federal and union documents -- formally resigned on Thursday.
Union leaders have been embroiled in an ongoing federal corruption probe. Prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department said Pearson and other UAW leaders misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of union funds on personal indulgences such as vacations, golf clubs, extravagant meals, cigars and $440 bottles of champagne. Pearson has been with the UAW for 17 years.
The 39-page federal complaint against Pearson charged him with embezzlement of union funds, filing false federal disclosures, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, aiding and abetting, and conspiracy. Pearson and Jones worked together at Region 5 and pictures of them together at golf outings emerged over the last two months.
"UAW officials, including Pearson, and others would spend weeks and/or months living in Palm Springs enjoying an extravagant lifestyle paid for with UAW funds," Andrew Donohue, a special agent with the labor racketeering and fraud unit of the U.S. Department of Labor's inspector general's office, said in Pearson's charging affidavit.
A UAW spokesman referred Automotive News to acting President Rory Gamble's previous statement when Article 30 charges were brought against Pearson and Jones:
"This is a somber day, but our UAW Constitution has provided the necessary tools to deal with these charges. We are committed at the UAW to take all necessary steps including continuing to implement ethics reforms and greater financial controls to prevent these type of charges from ever happening again."
Gamble has been aggressive in seeking reforms since he assumed the role on Nov. 2.
It is unclear if Pearson is cooperating with federal prosecutors. His lawyer, Scott Rosenblum, told The Detroit News on Sunday that his client resigned because "we wanted to focus on Mr. Pearson's defense." Pearson met with prosecutors in St. Louis "in order to determine whether any pre-indictment resolution could be reached," The News reported on Sunday, quoting federal documents.
Jim Soldate will continue as assistant director of Region 5, which covers Missouri and 16 other Western and Southwestern states, the UAW said last month. The union also said it would "institute formal oversight" over the region, according to an October statement.