Current, past UAW presidents implicated in corruption probe-report

DETROIT, Sept 13 (Reuters) - United Auto Workers (UAW) President Gary Jones and his predecessor are unnamed officials accused in a federal criminal case involving alleged corruption at the labor union, the Detroit News reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

Just two days before the UAW’s contracts with Detroit automakers were due to expire, U.S. prosecutors on Thursday arrested and charged a senior union official with embezzlement, and listed several unnamed UAW officials who also were involved.

UAW negotiators already faced contentious talks with General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) . The focus is on thorny issues like healthcare costs and profit-sharing at a time when U.S. new vehicle sales are declining.

But Saturday’s contract deadline could be overshadowed by the latest revelations in a mushrooming corruption scandal, of vast sums being spent on lavish entertainment by labor leaders.

Neither Jones nor Williams have been charged with any wrongdoing. A UAW spokesman did not have an immediate comment on the report implicating Jones and Williams.

The union had hoped to put the federal probe behind it by electing Jones, a former regional director for the union, as president in 2018. However, Thursday’s arrest implicated the second in command in the region Jones ran.

Jones was chosen as he seemed far removed from the scandal.

But two weeks ago, the FBI raided Jones’s home, a union retreat and multiple other locations as part of the corruption probe.

An attorney for Jones could not be reached for comment after the charges were announced against Vance Pearson, Jones’ successor as regional director.

But the union said on Thursday after the complaint was filed that it believed the government had “misconstrued” facts. (Reporting by Ben Klayman Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)