Judge rips UAW-Fiat Chrysler training center's role in scandal
Detroit — The UAW-Chrysler National Training Center was not victimized by corruption within the U.S. auto industry because officials there conspired with the United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives, a judge said Friday.
The center is not a victim and not entitled to restitution from former Fiat Chrysler Vice President Alphons Iacobelli, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman wrote in a court filing. Iacobelli was convicted of giving $1.5 million worth of illegal payments to UAW leaders in hopes of wringing concessions during labor negotiations, and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.
The judge's order ends a legal fight on the sidelines of a high-profile criminal prosecution that has led to eight people being convicted of crimes.
Borman concluded the National Training center was a "willing co-conspirator" that colluded with Fiat Chrysler and the UAW to funnel money from the automaker to union officials.
The judge noted that the training center, which is financed by Fiat Chrysler, dismissed several officials who were involved in the conspiracy between 2009 and 2015.
But the "presto chango" transformation of the training center's board "does not result in a metamorphosis creating a genuine victim," Borman wrote.
Training center lawyer Walter Piszczatowski could not be reached for comment Friday.
Separately, training center officials are suing Iacobelli to recoup more than $2.6 million the disgraced auto executive was accused of stealing and spending on a $365,000 Ferrari, two Montblanc fountain pens that cost $35,700 each, a $544,000 renovation at his Rochester Hills mansion and his wife's $868,736 credit card bill.
Federal prosecutors also have labeled the training center, the UAW and Fiat Chrysler as co-conspirators in the corruption scandal.
The allegation potentially exposes the automaker and the UAW — a cornerstone of the modern American automotive industry — to criminal charges, fines and governmental oversight, according to a former federal prosecutor.
Nearly two years into the prosecution, however, criminal charges have not been filed against the three entities.