Two former FCA executives, one ex-UAW official sentenced in scandal

DETROIT — Two former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives and a former UAW official were sentenced Wednesday to federal prison for their involvement in the $ 4.5 million UAW-Chrysler training center scandal.

Jerome Durden, 62, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul Borman to 15 months in prison based on his August 2017 plea agreement to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. The former financial analyst for FCA served as the controller of the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center between 2008 and 2015.

Durden presented false tax returns on behalf of the training center as a “charitable” organization associated with the late former UAW Vice President General Holiefield to conceal over $ 1.5 million in illegal payments by FCA to senior UAW officials.

Prosecutors contend that FCA employees and executives paid UAW representatives to influence union business, such as collective bargaining negotiations in 2011 and 2015, siphoned money and used false charitable donations and credit cards to pay for items not related to business.

Keith Mickens, 64, a former UAW official, was sentenced to 12 months in prison. In April, he was convicted of conspiring with other UAW officials and FCA executives to take illegal payments from FCA. Mickens was responsible for administering collective bargaining agreements on behalf of thousands of UAW members employed by FCA. He also served as co-director of the training center.

Michael Brown, 60, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for providing misleading and incomplete testimony to a federal grand jury. Brown pleaded guilty to one count of lying to a federal grand jury about the scope of the conspiracy in May, as part of a plea deal with federal investigators.

Before a grand jury in 2015, the former director of employee relations for FCA initially denied knowing about the FCA executives’ conspiracy to violate the Labor Relations Act. He was charged in April, one day before Mickens.

“The Court’s sentences today are further strides forward in our effort to root out corruption in the leadership of the UAW because of illegal payments by Fiat Chrysler and its executives,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement. “We want the hard working men and women of the union to know that federal law enforcement will uncover, prosecute, and punish any effort to undermine their collective bargaining process.”

Because Brown is cooperating, he could be in line for a sentence reduction “as the case continues to develop as to other individuals and entities under investigation,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing obtained by The Detroit News in a Wednesday report.

“Union members and FCA officials in this case acted out of personal greed, enriching themselves while damaging the reputations of their organizations,” the union said in an emailed statement Wednesday. “Fortunately, the UAW has layers of checks and balances in contract negotiations, including voting by the entire membership, and we are confident the terms of our agreement were never impacted.”

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