Disgraced former United Auto Workers (UAW) President Gary Jones resigned his union membership Friday amid an ongoing federal corruption investigation.
Jones hasn’t been charged with a crime yet, but federal prosecutors say he and other union leaders were involved in the embezzling of more than $1.5 million in union funds that were spent on personal luxuries.
Jeffery Pietrzyk, a former high-level official in the UAW General Motors Department, was the 10th defendant to plead guilty in connection with the criminal investigation. He served as the top aide for former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton and pleaded guilty in October to taking more than $123,000 in bribes and kickbacks from vendors and contractors while working for the union, The Michigan Star reported.
Ashton himself is facing fraud and conspiracy charges in the widening bribery scandal.
Analysts called Jones’ resignation from the union an “unprecedented” move that could signal things are about to get much worse for the former union chief.
In a brief statement, the UAW confirmed that Jones “has sent his resignation from membership in the union.”
“Jones has faced internal UAW Article 30 charges that would have removed him from office and from his membership. He had previously resigned his office as president,” said the statement.
His resignation as a member of the union comes just a little more than a week after he announced his resignation as president. The UAW said Jones stepped down “effective immediately” after Article 30 charges were formally filed against him.
Article 30 of the UAW Constitution deals with charges and trials of international officers, and by resigning all ties to the union Jones can avoid a formal union trial.
Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University, told the Detroit Free Press that Jones is “clearly disengaging as far as he possibly can from the UAW.”
“I think it means he is trying to avoid any possible penalties the union might impose on him. For example, they might try to deny him his union pension. They may ask for certain kinds of restitution if he took funds from the union treasury,” said Masters.
The FBI and IRS raided Jones’ family home in August and discovered wads of cash in his garage totaling $32,000. His daughter was allowed to stay at a Palm Springs home paid for by the UAW in January 2014 and no UAW business was attached to the stay. Arranging for his daughter to stay at the home violated both union rules and federal law.
Jones’ resignation came shortly after six UAW locals called for investigations into his behavior and his removal from office.
Manny Muriel, a special agent in charge with the IRS’ Detroit Field Office, previously said that “bribes, kickbacks, and money laundering permeated the UAW culture for years and years, all at the expense of its membership.”
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