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A woman who made a name for herself as a female pioneer in the male-dominated UAW is the latest target of an FBI probe into an alleged $2.2 million scheme involving theft by Fiat Chrysler and union executives.

According to prominent defense attorney John Shea, retired UAW Associate Director Virdell King has hired him to represent her amid the widening probe, which has so far triggered criminal charges against three people. King has not been charged.

Shea, who represented Bernard Kilpatrick in his mayoral-son’s corruption trial, would not comment on any specifics, beyond confirming today that King is a target of the investigation. At the heart of the probe are allegations that UAW and Fiat Chrysler officials stole $2.2 million in autoworker-training money and used it to buy trips, jewelry, an exotic car, $37,500 pens and to pay off a mortgage.

Charged in the case are Monica Morgan, the wife of the late UAW Vice President General Holifield and former Fiat Chrysler Vice President Al Iacobelli, 57 of Rochester Hills, who was indicted last week on charges he unlawfully steered $1.2 million in employee-training funds to Morgan, Holifield and others.

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Iacobelli made his initial appearance in federal court today, though said very little as he stood behind the lectern in a black suit, white shirt and blue striped tie. With his hands behind his back, the former Fiat Chrysler executive quietly responded to the judge with only a “yes sir” or “no sir.”  He pleaded not guilty, was released on bond and left the federal courthouse holding hands with a woman and his lawyer nearby

Iacobelli also was charged with stealing another $1 million from the same UAW training-center fund and spending it on himself, for things like a Ferrari and $37,500 Mont Blanc pens.

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According to the government, Holifield and Iacobelli  pulled off the scheme by secretly funneling FCA money through the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, which gets  $13 million to $31 million a year in funding from FCA. The center is used to train and educate autoworkers.

Also charged in the case is Jerome Durden, 61, of Rochester, a financial analyst at FCA who allegedly helped conceal the fraud. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Friday.

According to sources familiar with the case, more indictments are in the pipeline, targeting both UAW and FCA officials.

King, as first reported by the Detroit News, is a potential target of the investigation. The Free Press confirmed with her lawyer that she is a target and under investigation.

Morgan is free on bond and has pleaded not guilty.

The UAW has maintained it is cooperating with the federal government and was unaware about the alleged corruption in this case. 

Free Press staff writer Brent Snavely contributed to this report.

Tresa Baldas can be reached at tbaldas@freepress.com

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