Federal court records and interviews offer insight into a search conducted in the background of a $4.5 million corruption case involving one of Detroit’s Big Three automakers and the United Auto Workers. The hunt includes upscale locales, a six-digit check and a cameo by a neighbor of Iacobelli.
The money and luxury fountain pens could help offset financial harm caused during what prosecutors labeled a years-long conspiracy. The conspiracy was headed by Iacobelli and drained millions of dollars in Fiat Chrysler money from a fund that was supposed to help train UAW blue-collar workers, prosecutors allege.
“Anything the government traces to a crime, they can seize,” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor.
Details about the hunt emerged Tuesday, less than three months after the former Fiat Chrysler labor negotiator and Monica Morgan-Holiefield, widow of former UAW Vice President General Holiefield, were indicted by a federal grand jury. They are accused of participating in a scheme that siphoned millions of dollars in training funds earmarked for blue-collar workers.
The Montblanc pens feature 18-karat gold fittings,
The Montblanc pens feature 18-karat gold fittings, a blue sapphire embedded in the clip, a mother-of-pearl cap ringed by three diamonds and an 18-karat gold tip. (Photo: Montblanc)
Iacobelli, 58, is accused of spending more than $1 million of union funds on luxury items, including his house, pool, outdoor spa and kitchen, a Ferrari and the two limited-edition, gold Montblanc fountain pens.
Between October 2013 and September 2014, Iacobelli and others transferred more than $350,000 from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center to buy the Ferrari, prosecutors said.
Iacobelli bought the used Ferrari from a dealership in Naples, Florida, in May 2014. The cherry red roadster had “IACOBLI” personalized plates.
Iacobelli, however, dumped the Ferrari for a $73,000 loss in September 2015 within days of prosecutors signaling his involvement in the $4.5 million corruption scandal.
Six months later, FBI agents tracked down some of the money.
Search warrant documents obtained by The Detroit News reveal that in March 2016, agents seized $354,000.
The $354,000 was a check given to the U.S. Marshals Service by the law firm Butzel Long. That’s the same firm that employs Iacobelli’s defense lawyer, David DuMouchel.
“I would expect the law firm saw what was coming and said to Iacobelli ‘You’ve got to turn this money over,’ ” Henning said. “You don’t want the government rummaging around and hunting all over.”