UAW kickbacks investigation grows as former leader charged

Mike Grimes was administrative assistant

DETROIT – The federal investigation into United Auto Workers union executive kickbacks and cash payments has grown again.

Mike Grimes is accused of wire fraud, money laundering and getting nearly $2 million in kickbacks. Investigators say he helped obtain contracts for a clothing/apparel company and chiropractor, and then threatened them.

Grimes served as administrative assistant to UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada until this past year. He was assigned to General Motors.

One example given in a federal complaint is a 2006 contract with "Vendor A" to produce 23,000 watches. Grimes allegedly demanded $60,000 in kickbacks from the company.

When the vendor refused, Grimes allegedly threatened to cancel the watch contract. So the vendor agreed and also paid an additional $1,800 a month, which later became $3,800 a month.

From that contract between 2010 and 2017, Grimes allegedly received $900,000.

Other examples in the complaint include a 2011 jacket contract involving $530,000 in kickbacks, and a 2016 backpack contract with $500,000 in alleged kickbacks.

Here is a statement from the UAW:

“Mike Grimes benefited only himself, not the UAW membership, and should be fully prosecuted to the extent of the law.”

Grimes could face up to 20 years in prison, but a plea deal may be in the works.

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