Union boss accused of street fight with non-union worker

PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) The State Attorney General says her office will consider whether to charge powerful electrical workers union boss John Dougherty after a street fight with a non-union worker. Some of the battle was captured on tape.

Jeff Cole spoke with the alleged victim and Dougherty’s people.

It was about 8:30 on the morning of January 21st. when Joshua Keesee, the owner of a non-union electrical contracting company, says he was punched in the nose by electrical workers union boss John Dougherty.

Keesee says the union leader broke his nose and also hit him with a glancing blow on the forehead. Video from a service station security camera shows the aftermath of the altercation. It happened in the South Philly neighborhood of 3rd and Reed where a strip of new housing is being built by South Philly Builder Barry Sable.

That's Dougherty in the sunglasses and white hair, according to the video. The video shows Keesee being pulled back by a friend.

Sable claims the electrical workers have been protesting his use of non-union workers. Keesee, 36, says Dougherty's men struck him, 15 to 20 times, and he responded by punching one of them.

"The whole time I had it in my mind not to hit Dougherty. He is an older gentleman and during whole event he had sunglasses," Keese explained.

Dougherty's spokesperson in a statement tells a far different story. He claims the union boss was not the aggressor.  He says Keesee threw the first punch after making verbal threats against Doughtery's family. Keesee denies the threats and says he didn't know who Doughtery was at the time. Keesee's lawyer says Detective James Powell of the South Detective Division investigated the case.

"After an investigation Detective Powell determined that there was charges that should be made against and in fact did make charges against John Doughterty and 4 other people," said Attorney Robert B. Mozenter.

But last Friday, Mozenter says he spoke on the phone with the prosecutor Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams who tells him he has a conflict and kicks the case.

"He indicated to me that in fact he had transferred the case to the Attorney General. I asked why and I still don't know why," said Attorney Robery Mozenter.

By text, Williams wrote to FOX 29 he referred the case because of "real or perceived conflicts."  He added "He would have been attacked because of either preferential or overly harsh prosecution." Joshua Keesee plans to sue and is troubled by the D.A's actions.

"Really makes me disappointed people have to live in a city like this where people who are put in power to do certain things disregard that given who the person is," said Kessee.

In a statement, Attorney General Kathleen Kane writes she has set up a "conflict wall" regarding the decision to accept or deny the case because of the high profile nature of John Dougherty, who was a donor to her 2013 campaign. She adds capable attorneys in her office will make the decision.




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