High-rolling, slippery UAW official pleads guilty in embezzlement case

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — A former United Auto Workers official admitted laundering money and embezzling $2.2 million in union money as part of a guilty plea Friday.

Former UAW Local 412 Financial Secretary/Treasurer Tim Edmunds, 53, of Madison Heights is the 17th defendant convicted in a years-long attack on corruption within the auto industry and one of the nation's most influential unions.

Under terms of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Edmunds could be sentenced to up to 57 months in prison on charges of money laundering and embezzlement. He also will owe the $1.9 million to the UAW after already having returned about $300,000 in union money.

Sentencing is set for July 27.

“The hard-working men and women of the UAW deserve leaders dedicated to serving the best interests of the membership,” U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said in a statement. “Today’s conviction demonstrates our zealous pursuit of those who would seek to take advantage of their positions of trust within the UAW to steal and defraud union members.”

Edmunds pleaded guilty five months after being arrested and charged in the case. The FBI had to use a counterterrorism spy gadget and a team of 30 federal agents during a nearly week-long hunt to find Edmunds.

UAW leader a slippery fugitive during week-long FBI manhunt, feds say

He was accused of stealing union funds and money laundering, and prosecutors said he gambled with the money and spent more on guns, cars and child-support payments.

The criminal case described a prolonged embezzlement scheme starting in 2015 and involving union money from the Warren-based union local that bankrolled high-end shopping sprees at Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and Apple, and more union funds spent on child support payments and Greektown Casino gambling binges.

The case represented the first criminal charges filed since a court-appointed corruption watchdog was installed to oversee reforms within the union. Prosecutors filed the charges more than one month after UAW leaders revealed its auditors discovered more than $2 million in improper expenditures of union dues at Local 412, whose members include Stellantis NV workers.

“By stealing money from the union, Tim Edmunds betrayed the UAW members who elected him to serve on their behalf," said Josh Hauxhurst, acting special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit Field Office, in a statement.

Edmunds, who worked at the UAW from 2011-20, “systematically drained” the union local’s bank accounts of about $2 million by using the labor group’s credit cards for personal purchases, cashing local checks and transferring money into his accounts, according to the criminal case.

He was jailed earlier this month after a federal prosecutor said most of the embezzled money was missing and raised concerns about Edmunds' mental health. Chief U.S. District Judge Sean Cox called Edmunds a flight risk and ordered him held without bond.

Indicted UAW leader gambles on freedom, loses, goes to jail in $2M embezzlement case

The rare move was unprecedented in the five-year federal crackdown on corruption within the senior ranks of the UAW. Former UAW Presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams, who are among the union leaders convicted of corruption, remained free while their cases were pending in federal court.


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