Norwood Jewell, a former UAW vice-president, pleaded guilty Tuesday in fedeal court in Detroit to conspiring with other executives from his union and Fiat Chrysler to make illegal payments to union officials.
Jewell, 61, was the UAW's top official in its Chrysler Department. The Swartz Creek resident, admitted conspiring to violate the federal Labor Management Relations Act by accepting, arranging and approving illegal payments from Fiat Chrysler executives to high-level UAW officials from 2014-16.
According to The Detroit News, he told Judge Paul Borman:
"I wasn't perfect. I was getting stuff from Chrysler and I can't do that."
Prosecutors say gifts funneled to UAW officials from Fiat Chrysler included:
- Personal travel and golf resort fees
- Lavish meals and parties
- Tickets at Disney World and Universal Studios
- Limousine rides
- Designer clothes and shoes
- Golf equipment, electronics and custom-labeled wine bottles
Jewell admitted that in 2014 he had knowingly joined a “culture of corruption” and a conspiracy at the UAW that had been in place since 2009.
Prosecutors will recommend a 15-month prison sentence at an Aug. 5 hearing, rather than the five-year maximum..He's the eighth defendant to plead guilty in a criminal investigation into illegal payoffs involving UAW and FCA executives.
"Mr. Jewell’s criminal actions were an effort to enrich himself and his colleagues at the expense of dues-paying UAW members and denied those same hard-working men and women the assurance that union leadership was bargaining in their best interests," said Timothy Slater, hed of the Detroit FBI. "The FBI will continue to work alongside our federal partners to expose these conspiracies and ensure those who violate the law are held accountable.”
For its part, the international union says in a statement:
"As his plea makes evident today, Norwood Jewell exhibited poor judgment. This is a troubling moment for our organization, and our members are appropriately angry and frustrated.
"Our members will always be our highest authority, and so we pledge to continue to change the way that we do business."