Disgraced former UAW president Gary Jones has been under investigation for what feels like a lifetime now. It was all going to come to some kind of a conclusion in March, when a plea hearing was scheduled. Except that was just as coronavirus was shutting down the world.
The hearing, originally scheduled for March 19, was delayed about a week before that because Jones’s lawyer expressed concerns about travel, and there have been more delays since then. First the hearing was set for April 2, then April 15, then May 6, and now June 3.
Update, 4:22 p.m.: A couple minutes after I published this blog, The Detroit News reported that Jones’ would be arraigned via Zoom on Thursday. Jones is still expected to plead guilty on June 3, according to the paper.
Whenever it happens, as the Detroit News reported in March, Jones, who was president of the UAW for about a year and a half until November, is expected to plead guilty to embezzlement, racketeering, and tax charges stemming from a corruption scheme that so far has landed federal prosecutors 13 convictions.
Prosecutors filled the first charges on Jones in June 2017, saying he and others embezzled over $1 million to pay for things like golf and cigars. Jones became president of the union a year later, though his involvement in the scheme started years before that, according to prosecutors.
Since his house was raided in August it has felt like only a matter of time before Jones would be charged, though the delay could also be explained by Jones’s believed cooperation with prosecutors, who may have more targets in mind. Those targets could include former UAW President Dennis Williams, who has not been charged so far but has lawyered up, or they could include the union itself, which could be subject to federal takeover.
Either way, Jones, currently a free man, might have a stay in federal prison in his future. The two counts he is charged with carry maximum prison sentences of five years each, though a federal judge will ultimately decide after he has pleaded guilty, whenever that occurs, if it ever occurs. Like a lot of things, Jones’s case seems frozen in time.
The charging documents are below: