June 3 (UPI) -- The former president of United Auto Workers, Gary Jones, pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling union funds.
Jones entered a guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to embezzle union funds, racketeering and tax evasion. He and two co-conspirators were accused of embezzling more than $1.5 million.
Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, however federal guidelines call for a maximum sentence of 57 months.
Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, Jones has agreed to cooperate in an investigation into a scandal involving more than a dozen others also accused of misusing union funds and to forfeit $140,000 in illegally obtained money.
In exchange, the U.S. Attorney's Office has agreed to seek a lesser sentence.
Prosecutors said Jones spent about $60,000 on cigars and smoking paraphernalia. On Wednesday Jones said he filed expense reports to the UAW that concealed his use of union funds.
"While some of these expenditures were related to union activities, others were personal in nature and did not relate to union business," he said. "I recognize that my actions violated the law as well as my sworn obligation to my fellow union members."
Current UAW President Rory Gamble issued a statement Wednesday, saying Jones and other union officials violated the trust of union members.
"Their actions were selfish, immoral and against everything we stand for as a union," Gamble said.