Probe of Fiat, UAW Executives Brings Another Guilty Plea

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By Jaclyn Diaz

A fourth person pleaded guilty Feb. 6 to charges connected to the federal corruption investigation targeting executives at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the United Auto Workers, prosecutors in Detroit announced.

Monica Morgan, the widow of UAW Vice President General Holiefield, admitted to filing false tax returns that failed to report more than $200,000 of income received in 2011, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Morgan is the fourth person convicted in the federal investigation that revealed a scheme by company and union officials, dating to 2009, to divert more than $1.5 million from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. The money was used to give cash and expensive gifts to union leaders, court documents show.

Morgan did not work for Fiat Chrysler or the UAW. Her husband, Holiefield, was in charge of the UAW’s Chrysler Department and acted as the lead negotiator for the collective bargaining agreements between the UAW and Fiat Chrysler. He died in 2015.

Attorney: Widow Wasn’t Insider

Steven F. Fishman, Morgan’s attorney, told Bloomberg Law that some media coverage of his client unfairly tied her to the acts of the insiders who worked for the company and the union.

“There’s no mystery here. The government has treated her fairly. All the rest is noise,” Fishman said of suggestions that Morgan was as involved as her husband or others.

“Love makes you do foolish things,” he said.

Morgan’s sentencing date is set for June 4. The plea agreement specifies that she pay $190,747 in restitution to the U.S. Treasury and be sentenced to no more than 27 months in prison.

Morgan owned and operated Monica Morgan Photography and Wilson’s Diversified Products, both based in Detroit. Her companies received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds meant for the training center during the years when Holiefield was a union leader, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Alphons Iacobelli, a former vice president of employee relations for Fiat, pleaded guilty Jan. 22 and suggested in his plea agreement that the goal of the scheme was to get union negotiators to agree to contract terms favorable to the company.

Jerome Durden, a former financial analyst at Fiat Chrysler, admitted to his role in the enterprise in August. Later that month, former UAW contract negotiator Virdell King also pleaded guilty.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jaclyn Diaz in Washington at jdiaz@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bloomberglaw.com

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