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F.B.I. Raids U.A.W. Chief’s Home as Financial Inquiry Widens

Federal agents on Wednesday raided the home of the president of the United Automobile Workers union in the midst of a widening investigation of financial wrongdoing by union and management officials.

Agents also executed search warrants at a 1,000-acre U.A.W. resort in Michigan and other locations, an F.B.I. spokeswoman said.

The investigation has uncovered the improper use of millions of dollars of funds — some of it earmarked for training union members — and bribery of union officials by auto executives. In some cases, the funds were spent on personal travel and purchases of Rolex watches and other high-priced items.

Eight people, including three former Fiat Chrysler executives, have been sentenced in the case. Another defendant, Michael Grimes, a former senior U.A.W. official, faces federal conspiracy charges.

On Wednesday morning in Canton, Mich., a Detroit suburb, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the home of the union chief, Gary Jones, who was elected U.A.W. president last year.

Another search was carried out at the union’s money-losing resort and golf course, known as Black Lake, in Onaway, Mich., 250 miles north of Detroit. The union has been building a retirement home at Black Lake for Mr. Jones’s predecessor, Dennis Williams, who was union president from 2014 to 2018.

The F.B.I. declined to comment further on the searches, and there were no reports of arrests. Neither Mr. Jones nor Mr. Williams has been charged in the investigation.

In a statement on Wednesday, the U.A.W. said the raids were unnecessary because the union and Mr. Jones had been cooperating with investigators and had provided hundreds of thousands of documents and other material.

The raids come as the union is negotiating new labor contracts with General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler. By Friday, the union is expected to have results of voting by its members on whether to authorize strikes as part of the negotiations.

The current contract expires on Sept. 14. The automakers aim to reach agreements to lower their health care expenses and other costs. The union is pushing the manufacturers to add jobs at American plants. In talks with G.M., the union hopes to persuade the company to reopen the Lordstown, Ohio, car factory that ceased production this year.

“The sole focus of President Jones and his team will be winning at the bargaining table for our members,” the U.A.W. said in the statement.

The federal investigation into wrongdoing dates back several years and has implicated high-ranking figures on both sides of the auto industry’s union-management divide.

Last month, Norwood Jewell, a union vice president, was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty in a scheme in which money set aside for a training center funded by Fiat Chrysler was used inappropriately for travel, lodging and meals.

Fiat Chrysler’s former head of labor relations, Alphons Iacobelli, was sentenced last year to five and a half years in prison. He was found to have used a training center’s funds to pay for elaborate home renovations and luxuries including a $350,000 Ferrari sports car. Mr. Iacobelli also authorized $1.2 million in payments of training center funds to a union official and the official’s wife.

The charges against Mr. Grimes, filed this month, were the first with a General Motors connection. Prosecutors said Mr. Grimes had conspired with two unnamed union officials to use their positions with the U.A.W. and a nonprofit training center funded by G.M. to enrich themselves through bribes and kickbacks from vendors. A plea hearing for Mr. Grimes, who is free on bond, is scheduled next week.


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