Widow of UAW Official Sentenced in Federal Corruption Case (1)

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By Jaclyn Diaz

The widow of a UAW vice president was sentenced July 13 to 18 months for her connection to the misuse of funds at the Fiat Chrysler and UAW national training center.

Monica Morgan pleaded guilty in February to filing false tax returns that failed to report more than $200,000 of income received in 2011. Another charge, related to the conspiracy to violate the Labor-Management Relations Act charge, was previously dismissed.

Judge Paul D. Borman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan also imposed a $25,000 fine and ordered Morgan to serve a year of supervised release after her prison sentence.

Morgan is the first person sentenced in this ongoing investigation. Former Fiat Chrysler executives Alphons Iacobelli, Michael Brown, and Jerome Durden, and United Auto Workers officials Virdell King and Keith Mickens all await sentencing before Borman, the U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit said.

Steve Fishman, Morgan’s attorney, told Bloomberg Law that her sentence was “beyond disappointing.”

“As I feared, she was punished for the sins of her late husband rather than the crime to which she pled guilty,” he said in an email.

More than a year ago, federal investigators 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.

Neither the company nor the union have been charged in the case.

The UAW said the “disturbing” case stemmed from conduct by certain individuals and didn’t involve union funds or affect bargaining.

Money Tied to Criminal Activity, Prosecutors Say

Morgan’s sentencing guidelines were enhanced because the income she failed to report was the proceeds of criminal activity and because her tax fraud was hidden through shell companies, federal prosecutors said.

Morgan’s late husband, General 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. Morgan didn’t work for the union or the company.

Morgan owned and operated Monica Morgan Photography and Wilson’s Diversified Products based in Detroit. Morgan’s companies received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the training center during the years when Holiefield was a UAW vice president, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Those companies also “received significant payments” from Holiefield’s charity, known as the Leave the Light On Foundation.

Iacobelli and Durden acknowledge using Wilson Diversified Products and the foundation to hide payments made on behalf of Fiat Chrysler to Holiefield, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

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