(Associated Press) An official at a suburban Detroit branch of the United Auto Workers took $2 million from the union and spent it on cars, guns, luxury clothing and gambling, federal investigators said Wednesday.
Tim Edmunds, secretary-treasurer of UAW Local 412, was charged with embezzlement and other crimes. It’s the latest chapter of union corruption that has sent more than a dozen people to prison and and forced major changes.
The alleged theft by Edmunds “is a betrayal to every UAW worker,” said Timothy Waters, head of the FBI in Detroit.
UAW Local 412 represents about 2,600 people who work for Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, at factories in the Detroit area.
“He is entitled to the presumption of innocence just like anybody else is. We will work through this process,” defense attorney Joseph Arnone told The Detroit News.
In a statement, the UAW said its auditors discovered the improper expenditures and turned their findings over to federal authorities.
“We are confident that these new guidelines will identify any similar activity in our union and serve as a deterrent to prevent such activity in the future,” Frank Stuglin, the union’s secretary-treasurer, said in a statement Wednesday.
The government learned in August that money for years had been transferred from union accounts to an unfamiliar account at PNC Bank, Labor Department agent Andrew Donohue said in a court filing.
The document has a photo of a smiling Edmunds at Greektown casino in Detroit. UAW auditors found that he made more than $30,000 in ATM transactions at the casino with a union debit card, between 2018 and 2020.
Edmunds also purchased three vehicles, including a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk for $96,000, and leased two more, Donohue said.
Eleven UAW officials and a late official’s spouse have pleaded guilty since 2017, including former presidents Dennis Williams and Gary Jones. Not all the crimes were connected. The first wave of convictions involved taking money from a Fiat Chrysler-UAW training center in Detroit.
Other crimes involved kickbacks from union contractors and tapping UAW money for golf, vacation villas and gourmet meals. Some Fiat Chrysler officials were convicted for their roles in the training center embezzlements.
As a result, the union agreed to have an independent monitor watch its finances. UAW members might get an opportunity to elect future presidents rather than leave the job to delegates at a convention.