DETROIT (FOX 2) - A former United Auto Workers union official charged in a widening federal bribery and embezzlement scandal was in federal court in Detroit Tuesday.
Vance Pearson, 58, was once one of the powerful leaders of the UAW. Now he's in federal court, accused conspiracy to spend hundreds of thousands of UAW dues on an elaborate lifestyle.
Pearson was the director of a region in Missouri. He was charged by federal prosecutors in September in connection with a scheme to embezzle union money and spend thousands on premium booze, golf clubs, cigars and swanky stays in California.
According to the federal criminal complaint, Pearson and his co-conspirators spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on junkets to villas to play golf in Palm Springs, California. They also paid for extravagant meals at high-end restaurants, drank the Cristal champagne, and embezzled over $60,000 for cigars, the lawsuit claims.
There is more, but it is alleged Pearson buried those expenses in UAW records, and then filed false financial reports with a department of labor.
Now he is facing multiple charges including embezzlement -money laundering -and conspiracy - which could land him in prison for up to 20 years.
FOX 2 spoke with his attorney about the possibility of a plea deal. He didn't completely reject the idea.
Pearson's court appearance comes a day after he resigned his position with the UAW- and days after UAW Pres. Gary Jones resigned his position.
Jones has not been formally charged but some say he and Pearson conspired together. Pearson will be back in Federal Court on January 6th.
The UAW had moved to expel both men from the union.
So far, 13 people have been charged in the federal investigation.
Information from the Assocated Press was used in this report.