Ex-UAW Director Vance Pearson appears in court amid UAW embezzlement scandal

GF Default - Ex-UAW Director Vance Pearson appears in federal court
GF Default - Ex-UAW Director Vance Pearson appears in federal court

DETROIT – It’s been six weeks since federal authorities arrested former UAW Region Five Director Vance Pearson.

Pearson made his way to Detroit for his first appearance before a federal judge on Tuesday.

READ: UAW regional director Vance Pearson latest to step down after embezzlement charges

The union claims Pearson filed falsified expense reports, but the federal authorities go a lot further. Pearson is facing embezzlement of union funds, money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy, among other charges.

Federal authorities also searched former UAW President Gary Jones’ Canton home last August, as well as Pearson’s St. Louis home and office. They confiscated golf clubs there. A week later, authorities charged Pearson in a $1 million conspiracy.

Authorities said UAW Region Five would hold legitimate annual leadership conferences at the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel. Using what they call master accounts, Pearson and other high UAW officials are accused of renting off site villas and billing them through the master accounts.

Authorities said Pearson and others would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at restaurants and at golf resorts where they would take what they pleased from the pro shop. The complaint said the high UAW officials would allegedly spend the month of January, and sometimes February, inside a gated golf community in a rented villa with a pool and hot tub. They would allegedly eat high-end steaks, drink expensive scotch and smoke fine cigars, playing golf and partying -- a winter vacation paid by union dues.

Pearson is scheduled to be back in court on Jan. 6.

UAW Statement on Vance Pearson Court Appearance:

“The UAW is disgusted by allegations of criminal wrongdoing and concealment alleged in the Government’s charges against Pearson. If true, they constitute a grave breach of Mr. Pearson’s sacred duties to our members and our Union. Last week, the UAW’s International Executive Board unanimously filed our own internal charges against Mr. Pearson for his fraudulent submission of financial records to the UAW’s Accounting Department, and Mr. Pearson resigned from the Union rather than face a trial of these issues before a jury of rank-and-file UAW members under Article 30 of our Constitution.

As the criminal proceedings continue, it is important for our members to know we will not be distracted from FCA contract negotiations and our refocused commitment to fighting for our members. Under the leadership of Acting President Rory Gamble and the current International Executive Board, the UAW is focused on reviewing and tightening financial controls to restore the full faith and trust of our more than 400,000 members across the country. Our members should be assured that if we find there has been wrongdoing, we will take action to hold that person accountable.”

About the Author:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.