Former UAW Regional Director Vance Pearson pleads guilty in corruption scandal

Posted at 5:02 AM, Feb 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 17:48:33-05

(WXYZ) — Vance Pearson, a former regional director with the United Auto Workers, pleaded guilty in federal court Friday in connection to the ongoing corruption investigation.

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to embezzle UAW dues money and conspiring to use a facility of interstate commerce to aid racketeering.

During the plea hearing, Pearson admitted that he conspired with at least six other UAW officials in a multi-year conspiracy to embezzle money from the union.

As part of the plea deal, Pearson will cooperate with the feds' ongoing investigation, and his prison sentence was reduced from 20 years to five years. The sentencing guidelines call for 24 to 30 months.

Vance Pearson is facing several charges including embezzling union funds. He’s one of several former union top brass charged in an ongoing corruption probe.

Pearson – one of more than a dozen union leaders charged in this corruption probe –is expected to plead guilty during a plea hearing today. He’s accused of spending union money on fancy getaways and golf outings. He resigned from his post back in Novmeber.

Pearson was charged with among other things, embezzlement of union funds, filing false reports, money laundering and conspiracy.

The government says Pearson used more than a million dollars in union money to fund a lavish lifestyle at California resorts with other officials that would go several weeks beyond union conferences.

The perks also allegedly included steak dinners, champagne, cigars, golf covered with falsified union expense reports.

Pearson took a paid leave from his post in the middle of contentious talks and a strike at GM to focus on this criminal case, his attorney told 7 Action News.

The feds allege this corruption lasted from 2014 to 2018.

He is the 12th person to plead guilty in connection to the ongoing corruption scheme. He'll be sentenced on June 6

The UAW released this statement after the guilty plea.

“Vance Pearson blatantly violated his oath of office and betrayed the trust of all our hard-working members. In November 2019, the UAW International Executive Board filed its own action against Mr. Pearson not just to remove him from his elected position but taking away his membership in the UAW entirely. While our Union is moving forward, we will never forget the costly lessons from our past.

Under the leadership of President Rory Gamble in his first few days in office, working tirelessly with the Board, the UAW continues to implement a series of critical reforms necessary to strengthen the union’s financial controls, oversight, and its overall accounting system so this type of conduct cannot happen again. It should be emphasized that despite inaccurate reporting by some media outlets – purportedly based on unnamed, unidentified, and anonymous “sources” – the federal government has never said or even suggested that President Rory Gamble is a target of its investigation. Indeed, just the opposite. More importantly, under his leadership, the Board and UAW continue to aggressively implement these critical reforms and pursue additional reforms."