Marchionne: Conspiracy didn’t affect UAW bargaining

Ian Thibodeau, The Detroit News

The multilayer conspiracy allegedly involving a former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV top labor negotiator had “nothing whatsoever to do with the collective bargaining process” during UAW contract negotiations, CEO Sergio Marchionne wrote Thursday.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne

In a letter to FCA employees obtained by The Detroit News, Marchionne expressed his “disgust” over alleged actions that led to the Wednesday indictment of Alphons Iacobelli, 57, and Monica Morgan, 54, the wife of the former United Auto Workers Vice President General Holiefield.

Marchionne said the alleged conspiracy was acted out by an isolated few and went against FCA’s values. He said when the company learned of “possible malfeasance” in 2015, those involved were “separated” from FCA — in Iacobelli’s case, a month ahead of the start of 2015 contract negotiations,

Former FCA exec, wife of former UAW VP indicted

“I join Dennis Williams, the UAW President, in expressing my disgust at the conduct alleged in the indictment which constitutes the most egregious breach of trust by the individuals involved,” Marchionne wrote. “This conduct had nothing whatsoever to do with the collective bargaining process, but rather involved two bad actors who apparently saw an opportunity to misappropriate funds entrusted to their control and who, unfortunately, co-opted other individuals to carry out or conceal their activities over a period of several years.”

Alphons Iacobelli

Iacobelli has been charged with criminal violations of the Labor Management Relations Act. The act prohibits employers or those working for them from paying, lending or delivering money or other valuables to officers or employees of labor organizations. The law applies the same standard to labor organization representatives.

Morgan was charged with conspiracy with violations of the act. Her late husband, Holiefield, was the top negotiator for the UAW with Chrysler from 2008 through June 2014. A year before he died of pancreatic cancer, Holiefield took a leave of absence from the union after he accidentally shot Morgan in the stomach at their Harrison Township home. She underwent emergency surgery and recovered.

Iacobelli was vice president for employee relations at FCA. General Motors Co. hired Iacobelli in January 2016 as executive director of labor relations. It was unclear if he still works for GM.

The indictment charges Iacobelli and others associated with FCA of making more than $1.2 million in prohibited payments from 2009 to 2014 to Morgan, Holiefield and others. The indictment claims designer clothing, jewelry and furniture were among the payments, as well as paying off a $262,219 mortgage on Holiefield and Morgan’s residence in June 2014.

Authorities say the payments came from a bank account and credit cards from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center in Detroit, which is funded by FCA to provide training for its UAW-represented employees. The alleged charges would have come when Iacobelli was in charge of bargaining for FCA and when Holiefield was in charge of FCA negotiations for UAW.

Iacobelli also is charged with tax violations related to diverting more than $1 million of funds from the UAW-Chrysler center for his own benefit and using them to pay for a 2013 Ferrari 458 Spider, lease of a private jet and two limited-edition, solid gold Mont Blanc fountain pens costing $37,500 apiece. Nearly $100,000 was allegedly spent on landscaping, a swimming pool, outdoor kitchen and outdoor spa at his Rochester Hills home, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal credit card expenses and to pay off a relative’s student loan.

A third, Jerome Durden, was charged separately in the case with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. He was a financial analyst with FCA’s corporate accounting department and from 2008 through 2015 was controller of the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center.

FCA and UAW have both issued statements expressing disdain for the alleged actions of those indicted.

“I encourage you not to be discouraged by the actions of a few people that betrayed our core principles and our standards of morality, integrity and quality,” Marchionne wrote. “We dealt swiftly with these individuals as we will anyone who does not abide by our code of conduct and who disregard the ethical principles that lie at the foundation of FCA.”

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

Staff writers Melissa Burden and Rob Snell contributed