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Ex-UAW leader who pocketed millions in scandal gets 28-month sentence

Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

DETROIT -- Michael Grimes asked God for forgiveness Wednesday and apologized to his former UAW brothers and sisters for pocketing more than $1.5 million in the corruption scandal.

Grimes also had a few more things to say outside of federal court in Detroit after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman sentenced him to 28 months in prison for his crimes.

"I just want to say I'm sorry," said Grimes, a former UAW administrative assistant and executive board member of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources who pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Finally, he asked union members, one of whom came to court to explain how union corruption has robbed her family of good health care because of what has been bargained away, to "remember the good I did" as a union representative over a 28-year career as a UAW leader.

Grimes, who operated a pay-to-play scheme that netted him kickbacks and bribes from a vendor, has agreed to forfeit a house worth almost $600,000 in Fort Myers, Florida; a timeshare; two vehicles, a 2017 Jeep Wrangler and 1998 Jeep station wagon; a 22-foot pontoon boat and a fishing boat; a four-wheeler; as well as jewelry, including a silver Tiffany necklace and cross.

His attorney, Michael Manley (no relation to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO), stressed his client's willingness to cooperate, and offered something of a warning to any remaining targets of the federal investigation.

 

"People who have done things wrong should be worried," Manley said.

The scandal has felled both former union leaders and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials, including that company's onetime lead labor negotiator, Alphons Iacobelli. Former UAW presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams have both been implicated, although not charged, in court papers as unidentified union officials, accused by prosecutors as part of a group said to have embezzled more than $1.5 million.

Manley made a point during the sentencing of attempting to set the record straight for those who might have been confused. Grimes, whose case is part of a thread that includes former UAW and General Motors board member Joe Ashton, who awaits sentencing for his role in the case, took bribes from a vendor. He did not embezzle UAW funds, Manley said.

In his sentencing memorandum, Manley, who did not dispute that what Grimes did was wrong, had tried to explain that Grimes thought he could "buy away his pain" after the loss of his first wife.

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