"He just wanted to accept responsibility for his conduct and be held accountable," said his attorney, Brian McMonagle. "He's extremely remorseful for what he did."
Forte's guilty plea comes a month after the nearly 1,800 members of Local 1069 ratified a new five-year contract with Boeing.
Prosecutors say that Forte, his brother and six others pocketed $105,000 through kickback fees on $2.54 million in credit-union loans to unqualified applicants.
Before the scheme, applicants had to work at the Boeing plant or be an employee's immediate family member to get a loan. But Forte, as the credit union's vice president, created a new membership category called the Select Employee Group, which allowed nonemployees to receive loans if their company became an approved SEG member.
Forte, who was in charge of finding companies for SEG, told loan processors to disregard applicants' credit problems and other information that could jeopardize their loan, the feds said.
According to the indictment, filed in September 2008, some loan applications listed phony relatives and included inflated incomes. Those who received $20,000 loans had to kick back as much as $1,000.
McMonagle said he did not know if Forte would immediately step down as UAW president. A message left at the union hall late yesterday was not returned.
Forte, who was elected to the union post only months before he was indicted, made political waves last year in Delaware County after he snubbed the outgoing UAW boss, John DeFrancisco, by endorsing his Republican opponent in a state House race.
Forte's sentencing on loan fraud, bank bribery and conspiracy charges is scheduled for early next year, McMonagle said.