The same day that Joe Biden held a virtual town hall with business and union leaders–including current UAW President Rory Gamble–federal prosecutors were in court recommending three years of imprisonment for corrupt UAW official Joe Ashton.
Earlier this week, the same day that presumed-President Elect Joe Biden held a town hall meeting with business and union leaders, federal prosecutors in the long-running federal probe into corruption at the United Auto Workers recommended a nearly three-year federal prison term, reported the Detroit News.
Former United Auto Workers Vice President Joe Ashton should be sentenced Tuesday to 34 months in federal prison for pocketing kickbacks, prosecutors told a federal judge.
Despite prosecutors recommendations, however, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman sentenced Ashton on Tuesday to only two and one half years behind bars.
“We have to send a message,” Judge Friedman said over Zoom. “We have to let people know that the criminal justice system is not a system that’s only for people on the streets selling drugs and things of that nature. … Sometimes good people do bad things.”
Ashton was the head of the union’s General Motors department until July 2014 and maintained a seat on the GM board, reported MLive.com.
He admitted to receiving a $250,000 kickback after arranging a $3.9 million contract for 58,000 watches that were to be given to GM employees, reported MLive.com. Those watches were produced, but never given to employees.
Ashton’s conviction is the latest in a string of scandals involving the union. Since 2017, 11 union officials and a late official’s spouse have pleaded guilty to crimes connected to corruption in the union.
It’s worth noting, added MLive.com, that “not all the crimes are connected as they involve different types of illegal behavior from multiple sources.”
As the Free Beacon summarizes:
A total of 14 top union officials pleaded guilty to or were convicted of accepting illegal gifts, misusing millions in union funds, or embezzlement. The probe found that former UAW president Dennis Williams, who served from 2014 to 2018, used union funds to pay for personal expenses. Federal prosecutors called for government oversight of the union to root out corruption.
Given presumed-President Elect Joe Biden’s vow to “strengthen unions” amidst the ongoing probe into the UAW’s corruption, some are beginning to ask the question: Will a Biden Administration Tap the Brakes on Federal Oversight at the UAW?
Read more coverage about the UAW’s corruption here.