Monica Morgan, left, and her late husband, UAW Vice President General Holiefield. Photo credit: Facebook
Monica Morgan, widow of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday for a tax crime as part of a federal corruption probe of misappropriated funds at a Chrysler-UAW training center. Morgan was also given one year of supervised release and a $25,000 fine.
Morgan, 55, was originally charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act, three counts of falsifying a tax return and one count of failure to file a tax return. As part of a plea deal, she pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return on Feb. 6.
Federal prosecutors contend several Fiat Chrysler Automobiles employees and executives paid UAW representatives to influence union business. Government documents say officials siphoned money through the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center in Detroit and used false charitable donations and training center credit cards to buy luxury items. Prosecutors originally sought a 27-month prison sentence for Morgan’s role in the case.
Holiefield led the union’s negotiations with Chrysler in 2007 and 2011. He died in 2015 and Morgan was named in an indictment in July 2017 that accused the couple of receiving $1.2 million over at least five years from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center.
Morgan was the first of seven charged and the first of six to plead guilty to corruption. Morgan has already paid $102,984 toward a $190,000 restitution bill.
Morgan was surrounded by friends and family at Friday’s sentencing, many of whom submitted statements to the court on her behalf. Morgan’s attorney, Steven Fishman, told the judge before the sentencing that the 45 letters and pictorial submitted showed Morgan was “not the caricature” that had been presented through the media and court proceedings. Fishman said Morgan “obviously was not a child of privilege” but has long been an active member in the community.
Fishman said Morgan “has been dragged through the public mud.”
Morgan did not make a statement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gardey said what he gathered from the letters on Morgan’s behalf was that she was intelligent, strong-willed and capable, which showed her role in the scandal was “a very intentional act in order to satisfy greed” and that she “deliberately chose to engage in criminal activity.” Gardey recommended her sentence be on a par with sentences given to gang members and drug dealers for their crimes.
In a memorandum filed before Morgan’s sentencing, the U.S. District Court said Morgan “committed serious criminal tax fraud in order to avoid paying $190,000 in income taxes. In essence, Morgan stole $190,000 from all other honest taxpayers in order to support her own lavish lifestyle. Morgan used multiple shell companies to conceal her income and hide the underlying criminal activity that generated significant, illegal sums of money.”
The memorandum said Morgan “benefited handsomely” from the payments from FCA to her late husband.
Fishman, in response to the government’s sentencing memorandum, said before Friday’s sentencing that “Ms. Morgan stole nothing from other taxpayers by filing a false tax return, and only the government could view her payment of over $100,000 in restitution as nothing more than an attempt to buy her way out of prison.”
Others in the case
The other six individuals charged in the case are: Alphons Iacobelli, a former FCA labor relations chief; Jerome Durden, a former FCA financial analyst; former FCA employee Michael Brown; ex-UAW associate director Virdell King; UAW official Keith Mickens; and Nancy Johnson, a former top aide to ex-UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, who was charged with misusing funds but has not yet been arraigned. Jewell has been implicated in the scandal but not formally named as a conspirator by investigators.
Morgan, Iacobelli and Durden are also being sued by the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center to recover more than $4.4 million in damages.
“The misconduct by certain individuals in this case has been disturbing,” the UAW said in a statement Friday after Morgan’s sentencing. “Importantly, however, the wrongdoing did not involve union funds or affect our collective bargaining agreements. The UAW has taken strong measures to prevent a reoccurrence of this type of misconduct and our new leadership team continues to oversee improvements in our operations and financial controls.”