On the surface, the UAW-Chrysler National Training center is a facility offering a helping hand to blue-collar workers looking to improve their employability. But the widening spending scandal involving former top brass at both the union and automaker has exposed a previously unknown use for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles-funded NTC: a trough of cash at which to gorge oneself.
Two weeks after former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles financial analyst Jerome Durden, indicted for funnelling $4.5 million in training center funds to other execs, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, the scandal has spread to existing execs.
The Detroit News reports current United Auto Workers Vice President Norwood Jewell (seen above, on left) became the recipient of some of those funds in the form of a high-powered gift: a $2,180 shotgun.
Multiple sources claim the pricey scattergun, along with designer purses allegedly purchased by Jewell’s top assistant, Nancy Johnson, were bought with a training center credit card. It’s all part of what the sources call a culture of corruption and entitlement at the NTC.
A federal investigation conducted by the FBI and IRS led to the indictments against Durden, former Fiat Chrysler VP Alphons Iacobelli, and Monica Morgan-Holiefield, widow of late UAW VP General Holiefield. Jewell’s predecessor died in 2015, but The Detroit News‘ sources claim the lavish spending by NTC board members — made up of FCA and UAW brass — continued well after his death.
One possible target of the investigation, former UAW Associate Director Virdell King, has allegedly hired a lawyer. Sources claim Johnson requested King buy the shotgun with a NTC credit card.
The indictment claims Iacobelli spent more than $1 million in NTC funds on himself alone, buying a Ferrari 458 Spider, fountain pens that cost as much as a Ram 2500, and installing a pool and spa at his home. The Holiefields, it says, paid off their home’s $262,220 mortgage with an alleged $1.2 million in diverted funds.
As for Jewell, the UAW claims he wasn’t aware of his 2015 birthday present shotgun being billed to the NTC at the time of the exchange. In a statement to The Detroit News, the UAW stated, “When [Jewell] discovered the source of the funds in early 2016, he reimbursed the NTC for the $2,180 cost of the gun.”
“We have thoroughly investigated the matter and concluded that Norwood Jewell did nothing illegal and has acted in line with the UAW’s ethical practices,” the UAW continued. The union claims it is cooperating with federal investigators.
An internal 2016 UAW investigation apparently led to action being taken again an unspecified number of people. In the wake of the indictments, both union and automaker have agreed to enact a number of measures aimed at financial accountability and transparency at the NTC.