Greed and corruption go hand-in-hand and that’s the way it is for a high-ranking union officer who used his position to embezzle more than $1 million in union dues.

Gary Jones, a former president of the United Auto Workers Union, recently pleaded guilty in federal court in Detroit to conspiring with others to pilfer dues for golf trips, expensive meals and stays at plush California villas. It is considered the most significant conviction in a scandal that has rocked the UAW.

At his federal court appearance, Jones acknowledged that he falsified expenses from 2012 to 2017 when he was a regional UAW director in St. Louis. He was promoted to president in 2018 but quit after 17 months as the federal investigation intensified.

Ten union officials and a late official’s spouse have pleaded guilty since 2017, although not all the crimes were connected. The first wave of convictions, which included some Fiat Chrysler employees, involved money from a Fiat Chrysler-UAW training center in Detroit.

The 63-year-old Jones pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in the use of more than $1 million. Guidelines call for a sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison. But Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gardey said the government could ask for a lighter punishment on Oct. 6 if Hones provides “substantial assistance,” a signal that investigators aren’t finished.

The UAW, based in Detroit, has about 400,000 members and is best known for representing workers at Fiat Chrysler, General Motors and Ford Motor.

According to the Associated Press, Jones and other officials set up accounts that were supposed to be used for legitimate union conference expenses in California. Instead, according to the government, they used the money to pay for private villas, high-end liquor and meals, expenses, golfing apparel and golf clubs and green fees.”

The UAW vigorously defended Jones, even criticizing the government when agents searched his Detroit-area home last August. But the support eventually faded as the government’s investigation pressed on. 

Rory Gamble, the current union president, called the actions of Jones and others connected to the case, “selfish, immoral and against everything we stand for as a union.”

The AP reported some rank-and-file members have called for direct election of union leaders as a result of the corruption. 

Union leaders are well compensated, including fringe benefits, for their work. We would like to believe their high-paying jobs and benefits would be enough to satisfy them. But in the case of Jones and his cohorts, it wasn’t enough, and they used the dues of hard-working union members to quench their quest for greed and corruption.