Ex-UAW boss Jones gave daughter free Palm Springs townhouse rental, union says

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — The United Auto Workers tried to fire former President Gary Jones because he covered up spending union funds on luxuries in California, including a free townhouse rental for a daughter, according to documents released Thursday.

The UAW's governing board released a list of charges against Jones as part of the union's attempt to oust him and Region 5 Director Vance Pearson. The release came one day after Jones resigned amid a federal corruption investigation targeting Jones and retired President Dennis Williams.

Gary Jones

The charging documents provided new details about expenses surrounding a UAW conference in Palm Springs, Calif., in 2014. Jones and his wife were staying in a townhouse paid for by the UAW.

"Knowing that he was leaving Palm Springs at the end of the third week of January, 2014, Jones arranged for one of his family members to come to Palm Springs and stay in the townhome that had been rented for him by the UAW during the last week of January, 2014," the document reads.

Jones was told his relatives could not stay in the townhome, however.

"With Jones’ knowledge and direction, arrangements were made for Jones’ family member to stay in a different townhome in Palm Springs that had been rented by the UAW for the full month of January, and whose UAW occupant was also leaving Palm Springs by the end of the third week of January, 2014," according to the document.

Jones' daughter did not have any union-related business reason for staying in the townhouse, according to the document.

"Neither Jones nor his family member paid the UAW for his daughter’s week-long use of the Palm Springs townhome in January 2014," the document reads.

The daughter is not identified by name. Jones and his wife have two daughters.

The allegation is similar to one included in federal court records charging Pearson with embezzling union funds, money laundering, fraud and other crimes. In the court record, federal investigators say the union rented a private villa for a senior officer identified as "UAW Official A," who is Jones, according to multiple sources.

Jones was in Palm Springs for a three-day UAW conference and the union rented a villa for him for 31 days.

Palm Springs plays a central role in the ongoing federal investigation.

Jones, Williams and other UAW officials are accused of embezzling more than $1.5 million in union funds to pay for personal luxuries in Palm Springs and Missouri from 2010-19, according to federal court records. The luxuries included private villas, cigars, liquor, meals and golf.

Jones and UAW officer Edward “Nick” Robinson also are accused of embezzling as much as $700,000 in union funds and splitting the money.

The Robinson criminal case includes references to what legal experts describe as undercover recordings capturing Jones and others discussing possible crimes. 

Edward "Nick" Robinson

The criminal case describes three conversations among UAW officials earlier this year and directly quotes labor leaders talking about destroying evidence and obstructing justice. Robinson, who is expected to plead guilty, is the only UAW official who participated in all three conversations directly quoted by prosecutors.

In January, Jones met with Robinson and Pearson and tried to obstruct the investigation, prosecutors said.

"UAW Official A promised to provide a sham job to a relative of (Robinson) in order to 'take care of' the relative if Robinson agreed to falsely take sole responsibility for the ... cash embezzlement portion of the conspiracy, thereby attempting to protect UAW Official A from federal criminal prosecution," prosecutors wrote.

UAW Official A and Robinson met again in March and talked about whether the government had obtained documents from the UAW and hotels involved in the embezzlement scheme, prosecutors said.

"UAW Official A told (Robinson) that he wished they 'burned the records,'" prosecutors wrote.

During the same meeting, Jones reiterated he would provide for the financial well-being of one of Robinson's relatives if Robinson took sole responsibility for the cash embezzlement, prosecutors wrote.

"We'll take care of (the relative)," said Jones, according to the court filing. "I told you that we'd take care of it."


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