Friday, December 3, 2021

Union boss John Dougherty, City Councilmember Bobby Henon found guilty in corruption trial

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Union boss John Dougherty and Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon were both found guilty of conspiracy and multiple counts of honest services wire fraud in their federal corruption trial.

In all, Dougherty was found guilty of eight of 11 charges against him. Henon was found guilty of 10 of 18 charges against him.

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Prosecutors had asked the judge to revoke Dougherty’s bail, saying he is a danger to the community. The judge denied that request.

Sentencing for Henon is set for February 22. Sentencing for Dougherty is set for February 23.

They face up to 20 years in prison. Both plan to appeal.

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“We’re going to go back and regroup,” Dougherty said as he left court. “I’m going to take my time. I’m going to meet with my lawyers, I’m going to meet with the heads of the unions, and we’ll regroup.”

Federal prosecutors argued that Dougherty kept Henon, a union electrician-turned-Philadelphia City Council member, on the payroll in a $70,000-a-year, no-show job to help his union keep a tight grip on construction jobs.

“Henon’s salary was the covert mechanism for paying the bribes,” acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said at a news conference. “Much of what Henon did was not, in fact, on public display but behind closed doors.”

Their convictions follow a lengthy FBI investigation of activities within the chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers that Dougherty leads, but will not mark the end of Dougherty’s legal woes.

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The longtime union boss still faces at least one more federal trial based on charges in the sweeping 2019 indictment.

Jurors deliberated for several days last week before announcing a verdict Monday afternoon.

Defense lawyers insisted that there had been no undue influence and argued that the city allows council members to hold outside jobs. The defense also questioned how it was a crime for union supporter Henon to side with Dougherty and the building trades workers he was elected to represent.

Dougherty, a major force in Pennsylvania politics, has steered more than $30 million over the years to mostly Democratic candidates, and his brother sits on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Prosecutors over four weeks of testimony tried to show that Dougherty used Henon to press Comcast Corp. to steer $2 million worth of electrical work to a friend during cable contract talks with the city; to shut down the non-union installation of MRI machines at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and to investigate a towing company that seized Dougherty’s car.

Hockeimer called Dougherty an older-brother figure to Henon and defended his client’s “bombastic” style. He scoffed at allegations that the salary and Philadelphia Eagles tickets he passed on to Henon amounted to bribes.

Dougherty still faces a second trial on charges he and others embezzled more than $600,000 from Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

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