UPDATED 9:44 AM PT – Wednesday, May 12, 2021
A federal judge sentenced the former president of the International United Auto Workers Union to 21 months in prison for his role in the union’s long-running corruption scandal.
Dennis Williams, 67, appeared in court via Zoom on Tuesday. During his appearance, he became choked up and apologized to his family as well as the UAW’s members for his actions.
Williams pleaded guilty in September 2020 to conspiring with other UAW officials to embezzle $1.5 million in member dues for vacations, golf, pricey champagne and other luxuries. Williams, who served as the president of the UAW between 2014 and 2018, was the highest ranking union official to be sentenced as part of a multi-year corruption probe into the prominent American labor union.
During the virtual court hearing, the judge described Williams as a person trying to live a double life while being intricately involved with illegal activities at the company’s peak. The former top union boss initially began in Illinois as a welder and climbed the ladder to what the judge called the pinnacle of the UAW.
Williams lawyers tried to use this to their advantage arguing he should not spend more than one year in federal prison as he is a “devoted family man and Marine veteran who made mistakes”.
Despite their efforts, Williams was ordered to pay nearly $150,000 in restitution, including $132,000 to the UAW and almost $16,000 to the IRS. The UAW recently issued a statement saying, “Williams has rightfully been sentenced today for his crimes that put his personal and self-interest above that of our members and this union.”
Williams is one of 15 people who have been convicted for their part in the corruption, while other UAW officials who have pleaded guilty to the embezzlement scheme are awaiting sentencing.