Former West Bloomfield FCA official pleads guilty to covering up conspiracy to pay off UAW officials

Michael Brown charged with a felony for taking steps to conceal conspiracy


WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. – A former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles human resources director pleaded guilty Friday to covering up a conspiracy to pay off UAW officials, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced.

Michael Brown, 60, of West Bloomfield, pleaded guilty to taking steps to conceal a conspiracy between executives of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and senior officials of the UAW, Schneider said.

Brown served as a director of human resources for FCA from 2009 to 2016. He also served as a senior negotiator for FCA in negotiations against the UAW during the 2011 and 2015 collective bargaining sessions.

Brown was charged with a felony for taking affirmative steps to conceal a long-running conspiracy that involved executives and employees of FCA providing illegal payments to senior officials of the UAW.

Brown said the purpose of the conspiracy was to “grease the skids” on behalf of FCA in its relationship and negotiations with the UAW.

The UAW officials who received prohibited payments included individuals who served on the UAW’s National Negotiating Committee in the 2011 and 2015 collective bargaining sessions.

Brown provided misleading and incomplete testimony in December 2015 before a federal grand jury in a deliberate effort to conceal the conspiracy, officials said.

He faces 12 to 18 months in prison.

The payments included private accommodations and golf resort fees in Palm Springs, California for senior officials of the UAW, as well as other prohibited payments described in the plea, officials said.

“The real victims here are the hard working men and women of the UAW, and my office will continue to pursue, expose, and prosecute corporate executives and union officials who put their own personal greed ahead of their duties to do their jobs," Schneider said.

"Michael Brown lied to a federal grand jury to conceal a large scale conspiracy between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives and employees of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor - Management Standards to protect the financial integrity in labor organizations," said James Vanderberg, special agent in charge of the Chicago Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

“Pay to play scenarios such as this hurt the confidence of those union members relying on the UAW’s elected representatives to speak for them without fearing personal interests will take priority during the collective bargaining process,” said Timothy R. Slater, special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI. “Michael Brown’s plea, along with the other defendants from FCA, shows the FBI’s ongoing commitment to work closely with our law enforcement partners to scrutinize and prosecute anyone conspiring to hurt the men and women relying on a fair bargaining process, whether they are corporate executive or union officials.”

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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.