DETROIT -- A plea hearing is scheduled next week for one of three people federal officials have charged for taking part in an alleged multi-year conspiracy to siphon millions of dollars used to train UAW members at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Former Fiat Chrysler financial analyst Jerome Durden, 61, faces charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and failure to file a tax return as part of indictments unsealed last week. The charges involved $1.2 million in UAW-Chrysler National Training Center funds allegedly funneled to support lavish lifestyles of union leaders.
The plea hearing for Durden is slated for Aug. 8 in federal court in Ann Arbor, Mich., according to court records. It was scheduled the same day former FCA labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli, who the U.S. accuses of leading the plot, appeared for his arraignment in federal court in Detroit. Iacobelli, 57, pleaded not guilty and was released on a $10,000 bond.
Also indicted is Monica Morgan, widow of UAW Vice President General Holiefield. The prominent Detroit photographer pleaded not guilty to similar charges Monday in Detroit.
The U.S. is accusing Iacobelli, who abruptly left the automaker in June 2015, of taking $1 million for personal benefit and helping steer $1.2 million from the training center to Holiefield, Morgan and other high-ranking members of the union.
Officials allege Iacobelli and Holiefield, who led contract negotiations between the company and union in 2011, and others used a charity, businesses set up by Morgan, credit cards and other means to siphon money provided by FCA to the National Training Center for personal gain and expenditures. The funds were allegedly used to pay off a $262,000 mortgage and purchase a $350,000 Ferrari 458 Spider, lavish trips and two solid gold Montblanc pens costing $37,500 each, among other things.
The indictment says Iacobelli gave Holiefield and "other senior UAW officials" virtually unlimited and unscreened use of credit cards to keep them "fat, dumb and happy."
FCA, according to the indictment, made annual transfers to the training center of between $13 million and $31 million from 2009 to 2014. The training center is a tax-exempt corporation established in 1985 to provide education and training to workers.
The UAW and FCA separately released statements condemning the actions, saying they have taken steps to correct the problem. Marchionne's email to employees, obtained by Automotive News, last week distanced the company from the allegations.
"I join Dennis Williams, the UAW President, in expressing my disgust at the conduct alleged in the indictment which constitutes the most egregious breach of trust by the individuals involved," Marchionne wrote. He also said the "conduct had nothing whatsoever to do with the collective bargaining process, but rather involved two bad actors."
Durden was charged in a separate indictment from Iacobelli and Morgan. Both indictments were unsealed last week.
Durden's plea hearing, which was first reported Tuesday by The Detroit News, is scheduled for Tuesday Aug. 8, four days after he is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Detroit.
A spokeswoman for the court confirmed Durden is expected to appear Friday in court.