Coronavirus travel concerns delay ex-UAW chief’s guilty plea

DETROIT (AP) — An expected guilty plea to corruption charges by former United Auto Workers President Gary Jones has been delayed due to the coronavirus and traveling concerns.

Jones was to appear in federal court in Detroit on Thursday. He’s accused of conspiring with UAW cronies to embezzle more than $1 million.

Defense attorney Bruce Maffeo told The Detroit News that he asked for — and received — a two-week delay and that the guilty plea now will come on April 2. Maffeo is from New York.

Federal courts in eastern Michigan postponed many hearings at its five courthouses and all grand jury proceedings in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19

Since 2017, nine union officials and a late official’s spouse have pleaded guilty in the government’s broad investigation, which has stretched from the UAW’s coffers to a job training center funded by Fiat Chrysler. Some officials took kickbacks from union contractors.

Jones was president for about 1 1/2 years until quitting under a cloud in November. The government said union money was spent on golf, cigars, spas, high-end lodging and liquor.

Jones’ alleged scheme goes back years to his time as the leader of a UAW regional office near St. Louis.

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