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Financial Crime: Ex-auto union treasurer pleads guilty to embezzling $2.2 million for gambling sprees, guns, luxury cars

The former treasurer of a United Auto Workers’ local in Detroit has pleaded guilty to embezzling $2.2 million to bankroll his high-octane gambling habit and to buy guns and luxury cars.

Timothy Edmunds, 54, of South Lyon, Mich., admitted he used a substantial chunk of the money for gambling sprees, buying over $1 million in chips and making $16 million in bets between 2018 and 2020.

Edmunds had been the financial secretary-treasurer of Local 412 of the United Auto Workers from 2011 to 2021. The local represents thousands of workers at several plants operated by what was then known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and has since become Stellantis NV after merging with the maker of Peugeot.    

Federal prosecutors said Edmunds moved millions in union funds into his own accounts through unauthorized wire transfers and checks as well as through the use of the local’s debit cards. He covered up the theft by forging bank statements to make it look like the union’s accounts had far more money in them than they did.

“The hard-working men and women of the UAW deserve leaders dedicated to serving the best interests of the membership,” said Dawn Ison, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Michigan.“[His] conviction demonstrates our zealous pursuit of those who would seek to take advantage of their positions of trust within the UAW to steal and defraud union members.”

A message left with Edmunds’ attorney wasn’t immediately returned.

Investigators say Edmunds was a high-stakes gambler at the Greektown Casino in downtown Detroit. He often wagered so much as to require the casino to keep a record of his bets in accordance with federal disclosure rules, according to court records.

In the course of two years, Edmunds bought more than $1 million in casino chips and put more than $16 million into play, the record showed. At times, he would leave the casino with tens of thousands in chips he hadn’t cashed in, which investigators said was a sign of attempted money laundering.

Edmunds also purchased multiple Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos for over $75,000 each. He also bought at least 10 firearms for as much as $2,000 each, prosecutors said.

Edmunds pleaded guilty on Friday to embezzlement and money laundering. He faces up to five years in prison and has agreed to pay $1.9 million in restitution to the union, prosecutors said.. He had already returned approximately $300,000 in stolen money.

He is the seventh high-ranking UAW official convicted in a wide-ranging embezzlement scandal, including the union’s former president, Gary Jones, who was sentenced to 28 months last summer for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy golf clubs, lavish meals and fancy cigars and booze.

The UAW has been placed under federal monitoring for the next six years.

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