UAW leader sentenced for role in racketeering scandal

DETROIT — The man who formerly oversaw a major region of United Auto Workers was sentenced to prison Tuesday for his part in a union racketeering scandal.

Vance Pearson, who was based in the St. Louis area as director of UAW’s Region 5, was sentenced to 12 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Paul Borman. Pearson, 60, pleaded guilty in February 2020 to a single charge of conspiring to embezzle union money and use a tool of interstate commerce to aid racketeering.

In his plea deal, prosecutors noted Pearson’s his involvement in the embezzlement was limited to an amount between $250,000 and $500,000. Prosecutors accused Pearson of helping embezzle more than $1.5 million and spending the money on personal luxuries for labor leaders, including golf, cigars, private villas and liquor in Palm Springs, California, and elsewhere.

About 10 UAW officials, including two presidents, have been sentenced to prison for corruption. It included breaking federal labor laws, stealing union funds and receiving bribes, kickbacks and illegal benefits from contractors and auto executives. A union vice president’s widow and three Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV executives have also been sentenced.

Former UAW president Gary Jones was sentenced last month to 28 months in a federal prison and repay thousands of dollars for his crimes. Jones, plotted to steal up to $1.5 million in union dues, with the money he diverted being spent on golf clubs, vacation homes, booze and lavish meals.

Jones pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy last year. Federal sentencing guidelines called for Jones to get 46 to 57 months in prison due to his high position in the union. But prosecutors asked for 28 months because Jones accepted responsibility and cooperated as the government in its investigation into the union and Jones’ predecessor Dennis Williams.

Williams, 67, pleaded guilty in September to conspiring with others to cover up the source of cash for personal expenses, including golf and lodging in Palm Springs