Federal officials indicted powerful union leader John J. “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon Wednesday morning, making the announcement at a press conference on South Street. Five other Local 98 members were included in the indictment.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Pennsylvania Jennifer Arbittier Williams led the press conference, announcing a 161-count indictment that also included a local business owner. They include Brian Burrows, president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Michael Neill, training director; Marita Crawford, political director; Nico Rodriguez, treasurer of Brighter Pennsylvania PAC; and Brian Fiocca, Dougherty's nephew and union member, along with Anthony Massa, owner and operator of Massa Construction.
The charges come more than two years after the FBI and IRS raided more than a dozen offices of people connected to IBEW Local 98, including Dougherty. The FBI has had a wiretap on Doughtery for a year.
"Union leaders and public officials are held to similar standards. Both are required to act in the best interest of others. When they violate that duty in order to enrich themselves, it's a federal crime. When they conspire together to do so, it's a federal crime," said Arbittier Williams.
The 161-count indictment included various charges, including conspiracy to embezzle labor union funds, falsification of labor union financial records, and making false statements to the FBI, according to Arbittier Williams.
"John Dougherty and co-defenders conspired to embezzle Local 98 money for their own personal benefit and to benefit their families, their friends and their commercial businesses," she added.
George Peltz, a South Jersey contractor and an ally of Dougherty's, pleaded guilty Monday in connection to the federal probe. Peltz admitted to providing more than $60,000 in gifts, including home and office improvements, to an unnamed union official.
On Tuesday, Dr. James Moylan, the former Zoning Board Chairman of Philadelphia, was also indicted in connection to the investigation. Prosecutors say he used more than $40,000 in union donations to pay his business and personal expenses. He stepped down as zoning board chair after federal agents raided his home and chiropractic business.
Dougherty, 58, has long been one of Philadelphia’s most powerful political figures, despite never holding public office.
Dougherty is head of the broader Philadelphia Building Trades Council, and has sat on influential boards like the Delaware River Port Authority. Many inside Philadelphia City Hall consider him to be most influential at the city council level, where he has had a hand in getting several current members, including former Local 98 protege Henon, elected.
NBC10 obtained a copy of a letter Dougherty sent to union members Monday that touted recent union successes and said he will "continue to be your business manager for the foreseeable future."
“He is confident that his colleagues will respect any possible upcoming legal process and support him,” the statement read. “Councilman Henon is a dedicated public servant and will continue to serve as councilman."
Both Dougherty and Henon have denied any wrongdoing.
When asked about the indictment, Mayor Jim Kenney called it "unfortunate," adding that no one in his administration would be implicated. Kenney also will not ask for Henon's resignation, instead allowing Henon to make the decision.