A second former president of the once-mighty United Auto Workers (UAW) was charged Thursday in a scandal involving embezzling more than $1 million in union funds.
Dennis Williams was charged with conspiring with Gary Jones, his successor at the helm of the UAW, and other union officials to embezzle union funds from 2010 to 2019, US Attorney Matthew Schneider of the eastern district of Michigan said in a statement.
"UAW officials concealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenditures" on lavish perks like high-end liquor, meals, cigars, golf gear and "multi-month long stays at private villas in Palm Springs," the statement said.
According to the charges, the officials submitted fraudulent expense forms for leadership and training conferences.
Williams is the 15th person charged in the investigation into corruption within the UAW and illegal payoffs to union officials by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives.
He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Jones, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to embezzlement charges, had agreed to cooperate with authorities in the ongoing probe.
Williams, 67, who now lives in California, served as UAW president from 2014 to 2018 and previously was the union's secretary-treasurer from 2010 to 2014.
He had handled critical negotiations with Mitsubishi, Fiat and Caterpillar before occupying the union's top two offices. As a regional director, he put union support behind the political rise of Barack Obama in Illinois, particularly during the 2008 Iowa caucuses leading up to the presidential election.
Obama has described Williams as a close friend.
The UAW said it was aware of the charges and called it a "sad day" for union members.
"Any violation of Mr. Williams' oath of office and his responsibility to oversee our members and their sacred dues money, should rightfully face criminal penalty," the union said in a statement.