They were supposed to be rivals across the bargaining table, one jockeying for the best deal for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the other pushing for a good contract for autoworkers. Instead, the FBI says, former Fiat Chrysler executive Al Iacobelli and the late UAW Vice President General Holiefield were scheming to enrich themselves, jet-setting and buying luxury watches, jewelry, a Ferrari and $37,500 Mont Blanc pens with money that was supposed to help train autoworkers. The top negotiators allegedly did this by secretly funneling FCA money through a UAW training center and a fake children’s charity, ultimately spending it on themselves, reports the Detroit Free Press. They pulled it off with the help of an FCA financial analyst who cooked the books, they say, and ignored a warning years ago that they could “go to jail” for their misdeeds.
To pull off the scam, a criminal indictment says, the pair plotted to keep senior union members “fat, dumb and happy.” The scheme lasted for six years, authorities say. But the FBI and Department of Labor caught on, triggering a criminal investigation that surfaced this week, shaking up one of the country’s largest and most powerful unions and a billion-dollar international auto giant. In an indictment unsealed Wednesday, the federal government charged Iacobelli and Holiefield’s widow with multiple corruption crimes, alleging they and others perverted the negotiation process by taking millions in FCA money that they weren’t entitled to.