DETROIT (AP) – A former United Auto Workers vice president who took a $250,000 kickback on a watch contract was sentenced Tuesday to 2 1/2 years in prison, the latest punishment in what the government calls “systemic” corruption at the highest ranks of the union.
Joe Ashton, 72, of Ocean View, New Jersey, had hoped for house arrest, noting his wife has multiple sclerosis and needs constant care. But the judge said a prison term was appropriate for a crime that shook the faith of thousands of union members.
“We have to send a message,” U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said. “We have to let people know that the criminal justice system is not a system that’s only for people on the streets selling drugs and things of that nature. … Sometimes good people do bad things.”
Ashton doesn’t have to report to prison until June because of the risk of the coronavirus, the judge said.
Ashton led the