Culture of Corruption: ex-UAW leader gets 28-month sentence

FILE - In this July 16, 2019, file photo, Gary Jones, United Auto Workers President, speaks during the opening of their contract talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Auburn Hills, Mich.   Jones was sentenced to 28 months in prison for scheming to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars in union dues. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit sentenced the 64-year-old Jones on Thursday, June 10, 2021.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
FILE - In this July 16, 2019, file photo, Gary Jones, United Auto Workers President, speaks during the opening of their contract talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Auburn Hills, Mich. Jones was sentenced to 28 months in prison for scheming to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars in union dues. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit sentenced the 64-year-old Jones on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – He plotted to steal up to $1.5 million in union dues, and the money he diverted was spent on golf clubs, vacation homes, booze and lavish meals, fostering a culture of corruption within the United Auto Workers union.

Now former UAW president Gary Jones will have to spend 28 months in a federal prison and repay thousands of dollars for his crimes.

Jones, 64, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy last year. Borman ordered that Jones surrender for his term in 90 days and recommended a low-security federal prison in Seagoville, Texas, so he would be close to his wife who now lives near Dallas.

Before sentencing, Jones choked up in the courtroom as he apologized to his family and union members for his actions. “I failed them. I failed the UAW that elected me as president,” he told Borman. “All I can say is I’m sorry I let them down, I let my family down.”

Federal sentencing guidelines called for Jones to get 46 to 57 months in prison due to his high position in the union. But prosecutors asked for 28 months because Jones accepted responsibility and cooperated as the government went after his cohorts in a wide-ranging probe of union corruption.

“He was willing to assist in any way,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gardey told the court. “And he was truthful.”

Gardey said that in many ways, Jones is a good man who worked in a “culture of corruption,” following the crowd of other union leaders who thought they were “entitled to get ours.” He said Jones helped with prosecution of Dennis Williams, who preceded Jones as president.

But Gardey also said Jones' crimes were serious and have scarred the union and destroyed members' confidence in their leaders. He recommended that Borman issue a sentence that would let labor unions know that this behavior won't be tolerated.