The former treasurer of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union in Detroit (Local 412) admitted Friday that he embezzled $2.2 million from his employers.
Timothy Edmunds, 54, used the money to fuel a dangerously high-stakes gambling habit and to feed his penchant for guns and mid-size sports utility vehicles, according to the feds, .
Edmunds, of South Lyon, Mich., pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds and money laundering in a federal court in Detroit. Prosecutors said he “systematically drained” the Local 412 investment fund of $2.2 million over ten years to 2021.
He used unauthorized wire transfers, checks, and union debit cards to achieve his ends. And he hid the transactions by forging bank statements to make it appear Local 412’s accounts were healthier than they were, per court documents.
Federal prosecutors said Edmunds was a serious high roller at the Greektown Casino in downtown Detroit. Greektown records obtained by investigators indicated that he had “cash buy-ins” of over $1 million and “put over $16 million in play while gambling at the casino.”
He would sometimes leave Greektown with tens of thousands of chips he hadn’t yet cashed, which prosecutors argued signified money laundering.
Edmunds also splurged on multiple Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos at $75,000 each, and at least 10 firearms for as much as $2,000 each, according to court filings. He also used some of the money to make child support payments.
Edmunds is the 16th individual charged in a four-year long federal probe into corruption among UAW leaders and auto executives, who have been accused variously of bribery, theft, and influence peddling.
But these are the first criminal charges to be handed down since a federal court ordered the union to be monitored by an anti-corruption watchdog for six years from 2020.
Edmunds went on the lam after charges were laid November 2. The FBI used a “counterterrorism spy gadget” and a team of 30 federal agents during a nearly week-long hunt for the rogue treasurer, according to The Detroit News.
Prosecutors portrayed him as a “slippery, suicidal fugitive, a flight risk with a messy personal life who used counter-surveillance tactics to elude the FBI.”
He was denied bail because of the judge’s concerns about his mental health and criminal history of violence.
“The hard-working men and women of the UAW deserve leaders dedicated to serving the best interests of the membership,” said US Attorney Dawn Ison. “[Edmunds’] 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.”
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