Former UAW Exec Ashton Charged in Fraud Probe

Bill Hampton

Joe Ashton, a retired United Auto Workers union vice president and former member of General Motors Co.’s board of directors, has been charged with fraud and money laundering.

Ashton retired three years ago. He is the highest-ranking UAW official charged to date in a federal criminal investigation that has now indicted 13 people.

Federal prosecutors claim Ashton demanded $500,000 in kickbacks and bribes in a scheme involving the purchase of $15.8 million in UAW-branded jackets, backpacks and wristwatches, The Detroit News reports. The activity included payoffs from Ashton’s chiropractor, who handled a rigged $4 million order for the commemorative watches.

Ashton joined GM’s board as the UAW representative in 2014 but stepped down several months later. He also is a past director of the western New York Federal Reserve Bank.

Ashton faces as much as 20 years in prison for fraud and 10 years for money laundering.