UAW official charged with embezzling union funds allegedly spent on golf equipment, cigars & more

Posted at 3:32 PM, Sep 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-12 16:10:14-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A UAW regional director has been arrested and charged with embezzling union funds and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on golf clubs, golf equipment & apparel, cigars, villa rentals and more, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a release on Thursday.

Vance Pearson, 58, of St. Charles, Missouri, was arrested on Thursday and charged with several crimes including conspiracy, embezzlement of union funds, money laundering and wire fraud.

Pearson is a member of the UAW board and was elected as the Region 5 director in June 2018. Region 5 covers thousands of UAW members from Missouri and 16 states southwest of Missouri, including California.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday, Pearson conspired ith other UAW officials to embezzle money from the union to benefit himself and other officials. That happened, the feds say, by concealing personal expenditures in the cost of the UAW Region 5 conferences in Palm Springs, Coronado, Calf. and Missouri.

The feds say that between 2014 and 2018, Pearson and other officials submitted fake expense forms seeking reimbursement from the UAW Detroit headquarters for the leadership and training conference. Instead, feds say Pearson and co-conspirators used the conferences to conceal the use of hundreds of thousands of dollars in UAW funds.

Those include, feds say, money to buy sets of golf clubs, individual golf clubs and other golf equipment costing thousand sof dollars.

Feds allege that Pearson and other officials spent more than $100,000 to buy golf clothing, shirts, hats, sunglasses, golf blls, jackets, shorts and more from various pro shops in California and Missouri.

"Pearson and the conspirators spent tens of thousands of dollars in UAW funds at the Indian Canyons golf course in Palm Springs on green fees for golfing outside of the time periods covered by the UAW Region 5 conferences that were used to conceal the extravagant personal spending of UAW funds," the feds said in a release.

According to the complaint, Pearson and other officials spent hundreds of thousands in UAW funds to rent villas with individual pools for high-ranking union officials for long periods of time outside of the dates for the conferences. Funds were also used to pay for meals at high-end restaurants.

The complaint also said that Pearson and others embezzled over $60,000 to buy boxes of cigars, humidors, cigar cutters and lighters from 2014-2018.

During search warrants executed last week, the feds say the recovered dozens of cigars, humidors, hundreds of high-end bottles of liquor, hundreds of golf shirts, multiple sets of golf clubs and tends of thousands of dollars in cash.

Pearson was arrested in Missouri and is expected to make an initial appearance in federal court before being arraigned in Detroit.