DETROIT (WXYZ) — Vance Pearson walked into federal court in downtown Detroit a different person. His defense attorney Scott Rosenblum says Pearson has lost 20 pounds as he’s looking at 20 big ones in prison in the federal corruption cases involving the United Autoworkers Union.
The attorney also says they have not gotten all the evidence from the feds going back several years, so they don’t know if they will take a plea deal or go to trial. The case is adjourned until Jan. 6.
Pearson resigned as a Regional Director from the UAW on Sunday, the attorney says so he could concentrate on the massive criminal case. The charges are embezzlement of union funds, filing false reports, mail and wire fraud, aiding and abetting and conspiracy.
Pearson was high profile on the stage with the UAW during contract talks with the Big 3 autos, but he took a paid leave in the middle of the strike against General Motors.
Also high profile was UAW President Gary Jones who also resigned abruptly last week. His home in Canton was raided by the feds in August.
Former UAW President Dennis Williams was also raided. Both of those officials have not been charged but it may be only a matter of time.
Pearson could help build a case against Jones. Both came up from Region 5 covering several states. The feds spell out how Pearson allegedly used more than a million dollars in union money to pay for posh resorts in California for several weeks after union conferences and for other officials.
The perks allegedly included steak dinners, champagne, cigars, golf and covered it with falsified union expense reports.
The new Acting UAW President Rory Gamble said to 7 Action News after taking over earlier this month, “At this point in time we have canceled conferences in Region 5. And we’re going to proceed with zero tolerance.”
Former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton is set to take a plea deal next week. That would be number 11 out of 13 charged so far.
The UAW issued this statement:
The UAW is disgusted by allegations of criminal wrongdoing and concealment alleged in the Government’s charges against Pearson. If true, they constitute a grave breach of Mr. Pearson’s sacred duties to our members and our Union. Last week, the UAW’s International Executive Board unanimously filed our own internal charges against Mr. Pearson for his fraudulent submission of financial records to the UAW’s Accounting Department, and Mr. Pearson resigned from the Union rather than face a trial of these issues before a jury of rank-and-file UAW members under Article 30 of our Constitution.
As the criminal proceedings continue, it is important for our members to know we will not be distracted from FCA contract negotiations and our refocused commitment to fighting for our members. Under the leadership of Acting President Rory Gamble and the current International Executive Board, the UAW is focused on reviewing and tightening financial controls to restore the full faith and trust of our more than 400,000 members across the country. Our members should be assured that if we find there has been wrongdoing, we will take action to hold that person accountable.