DETROIT – A retired United Auto Workers official will soon be heading to prison after the latest conviction in the federal investigation into UAW management.
Former UAW International executive assistant Mike Grimes pleaded guilty for taking kickbacks from a UAW vendor for 12 years.
Grimes retired from the UAW as a millionaire in 2018. He moved to a $500,000 home in Fort Myers, Florida.
He admitted Wednesday in open court that he got his wealth by fleecing a vendor he helped get a UAW contract to sell union watches in exchange for a $60,000 mortgage on a Rose Township home.
Grimes then insisted the vendor pay him a monthly consulting fee until the day he retired, officials said. Federal officials estimate the value of that at nearly $1 million.
Grimes also admitted to squeezing the same vendor on a $6 million UAW monogrammed jacket contract for another $500,000.
In court, Grimes claimed he got involved after running into financial trouble. He said his wife had to retire and the vendor approached him, not the other way around.
When Grimes emerged from the courthouse following the hearing, he was greeted by about a dozen angry UAW retirees.
"Shame on you, Mike Grimes," former UAW colleague Frank Hammer said.
Grimes is facing about 20 years in prison, but the plea deal he struck with prosecutors would limit his prison term to about four or five years.
Federal officials also want him to pay restitution, suggesting he give up his Fort Myers home. That part of the deal is still being worked out, officials said.
Sentencing is set for January.