ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michael Grimes, who worked as an assistant in the UAW's General Motors department, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court here to wire fraud and money laundering charges.
Count one was the conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, which carries up to 20 years' imprisonment. The second count, conspiracy to commit money laundering, carries up to 10 years imprisonment.
Federal recommended sentencing guidelines range from 46 to 57 months.
Grimes is the ninth UAW or corporate official to plead guilty in the ongoing federal corruption investigation into illegal payoffs to UAW officials by Fiat Chrysler executives "and corruption within the UAW itself," the Justice Department said in a statement.
U.S. prosecutors say Grimes, 65, conspired with two unidentified senior UAW officials on multiple schemes going back to at least 2006. Grimes, according to prosecutors, pressured a vendor of custom UAW logo products into giving him a $60,000 mortgage and periodic bribes totaling nearly $900,000.
The prosecution's criminal information against Grimes says the trio also arranged for the same vendor to sell the joint UAW-GM training center 50,000 "Team UAW-GM" jackets for $6 million in 2011 and 55,000 backpacks for $5.8 million in 2016. Grimes got the vendor to give him more than $1 million in kickbacks for those orders, according to the prosecution.
Grimes used bribe payments to buy, among other things, a 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited along with property in Florida.
Grimes, who retired last year, said in court that he was dealing with a financial burden.
His attorney, Michael P. Manley, said after the proceedings that Grimes is devastated by his actions. Manley -- no relation to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Michael M. Manley -- added that Grimes was crushed by what he has done to the union's reputation.
Manley said people don't want to hear excuses, they want accountability, and that was what Wednesday's guilty plea was about.
Manley said Grimes accepting responsibility for his actions is the first step to redemption.
Grimes' next court appearance is set for Jan. 11 in Detroit.
“The hard-working members of the UAW deserve to be represented by leaders who give them true leadership -- and that means leadership that isn’t driven by corruption and greed,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement. “Today’s guilty plea is another step in the right direction of our battle against corruption in the union leadership."
Manny Muriel, special agent in charge of Detroit’s IRS criminal investigation unit, said in the statement: “For more than a decade Michael Grimes and other UAW officials were part of a corruption club that conspired to launder proceeds generated from the illegal kickback scheme. Grimes and others concealed the source of the money through a series of convoluted transactions totaling millions of dollars. This behavior served one purpose; self-enrichment and this greed became an epidemic throughout the corruption club."