Former UAW official charged with scheme to accept illegal payments from Fiat Chrysler

Virdell King accused in conspiracy for UAW officials to accept money from FCA

DETROIT – The former assistant director of the UAW Chrysler Department was charged Friday in connection with a scheme to accept illegal payments from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Virdell King, 65, of Detroit, is accused in a conspiracy for UAW officials to accept money and other items of value from Fiat Chrysler between 2011 and 2015.

King was one of the senior UAW officials responsible for negotiating the administering the national collective bargaining agreements with the FCA, according to court documents. She was also a member of the UAW's national negotiating committees in 2011 and 2015 that negotiated the CBA between the UAW and the FCA.

King is accused of accepting thousands of dollars' worth of designer shoes, clothing, jewelry, luggage and other personal items. She bought the items using credit cards issued through the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, officials said.

"Years of fraud and corruption within a select group of the FCA and UAW hierarchy continue to be eroded through the diligence and collaboration of law enforcement in the Detroit metropolitan area," said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI. "The superseding information against Virdell King highlights the FBI's commitment to end the abusive practice of using union training finances for personal gain. As evidenced, these efforts make it far more likely that leaders in the labor union movement who illegally profit at the expense of their membership will be held to account for their crimes."

Court documents said FCA vice president Alphons Lacobelli told senior UAW officials that they could use their NTC credit cards to make personal purchases, saying, "If you see something you want, feel free to buy it."

King is accused of making over $40,000 of additional purchases between December 2012 and August 2015, including a shotgun, golf equipment, luggage, concert tickets and theme park tickets.

"This alleged conspiracy among several union and corporate officials to abuse their positions for personal gains at the expense of hard-working Chrysler employees is highly alarming," said Ian Burg, director of the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), Detroit-Milwaukee District Office. "OLMS remains committed to fulfilling its mission of protecting the rights of union members and maintains a zero tolerance policy regarding financial misconduct by union officials. OLMS will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of corruption by union officials whose members have placed their work lives in their trust."

Here is the sentencing recommendation from the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan:

"Based on the foregoing, the government recommends that the Court grant the government’s motion for a downward departure from the Sentencing Guidelines based on Liang’s substantial assistance and sentence him to a term of three years imprisonment, along with a monetary fine of $20,000."

You can view the full court document below:

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.