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Rochester Hills Man Pleads Guilty In Scheme To Pay Off UAW Officials

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WWJ/AP) - A former Fiat Chrysler financial analyst who federal prosecutors say helped illegally funnel worker training funds over a number of years has pleaded guilty in the case.

Jerome Durden of Rocheter Hills entered the pleas on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor to charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and failure to file a tax return. As part of a plea agreement, he faces up to 37 months in prison.

[View a copy of the plea agreement]

Authorities say Durden, 61, admitted to preparing and filing numerous false tax returns on behalf of the tax-exempt UAW-Chrysler National Training Center and on behalf of a purported charity called the Leave the Light On Foundation as part of a conspiracy to obstruct and impair the IRS. Durden acknowledged that the false tax returns concealed compensation paid to then UAW vice president General Holiefield and others and caused over $1,000,000 in tax losses to the U.S.

Sentencing for Durden is scheduled for Dec. 12. He is also expected to aid prosecutors in their case against several others.

"Mr. Durden's criminal conduct was part of a broader pattern of dishonesty and collusion among those implicated in this investigation," said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI, in a statement. "Top level executives at FCA and the UAW chose to misappropriate over a million dollars directly from the NTC at the expense of the FCA workforce. The FBI and its federal partners will remain vigilant in exposing and prosecuting anyone, regardless of their position within an organization, who violates federal laws."

Durden's attorney Judith Gracey told The Detroit News he's "doing the right thing."

Prosecutors in July announced charges in this case. Former Fiat Chrysler executive Al Iacobelli was indicted in an alleged conspiracy involving General Holiefield and Holiefield's wife, Monica Morgan. Holiefield died in 2015.

Iacobelli and Morgan are awaiting trial.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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