PHILADELPHIA - Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98's headquarters in Philadelphia Friday morning.
Their presence comes a little over a week after it was announced a federal bribery trial involving union leader "Johnny Doc" Dougherty, and City Councilmember Bobby Hennon, had been postponed.
The FBI previously raided union headquarters and Dougherty's South Philadelphia home in Aug. 2016. At the time, federal officials also searched City Hall and district offices belonging to Hennon.
In Feb. 2019, Dougherty was indicted on embezzlement and fraud charges, along with Hennon and six others.
Dougherty exerted complete control over the union, according to the 116-count indictment, using that power to "repeatedly and persistently steal its funds and put his own self-interests over that of the membership." All told, the defendants misspent more than $600,000 in union funds, officials said in 2019.
Dougherty leads the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, with 5,000 members, along with the city's Building Trades Council, an umbrella group with more than 70,000 members. He has been at the helm of the century-old electricians union for 25 years.
The union over the years has emerged as a major political donor, spending tens of millions of dollars through its political action committees, mostly to help Democrats in Pennsylvania.
According to the indictment, Dougherty used union credit cards to buy groceries and household goods and to splurge on restaurants, and let others in his orbit do the same. He allegedly used union funds to pay contractors for work at his South Philadelphia home and bar. He also put friends and family members on the union's payroll, showering them with raises and overtime for hours they didn't work and using them to do personal tasks, prosecutors said.
Councilman Bobby Henon, a former union official, got a $70,000 union salary to press Dougherty's interests at City Hall, officials said in the unsealed indictment. Henon used his office to pressure Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Comcast Corp. and others to use union labor, prosecutors said at the time. FBI on scene at IBEW Local 98 headquarters Friday morning.
Dougherty and Hennon both pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2019.
The IBEW Local 98 released the following statement:
"We have no idea why the Feds staged today's made-for-TV event. John Dougherty has been under federal scrutiny for 28 years and has never once failed to cooperate. Everything they took today, they either took previously or could have simply asked for it and we would have turned it over.
The statement added, "John Dougherty has the entire Philadelphia Building Trades working safely and at full employment in the midst of a pandemic. He met the opioid abuse issue that hurt his members head on and beat it. His leadership on economic opportunities has re-energized the city. And now we get another orchestrated federal raid? The timing is curious, as well. Here we are less than three weeks from a Presidential Election. Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Building Trades, which John Dougherty also leads, unanimously endorsed Joe Biden for President. Two days ago, Local 98 hung a massive Biden For President banner on its union hall. And today, the Feds raided Local 98 again. That seems more than coincidental. Local 98 has no comment with respect to the specifics of the search warrant inasmuch as the Union has no knowledge as to the scope or specific focus of the government’s apparent investigation. Local 98 continues to work hard representing its members and would like to remind the public, and the media, that the Local Union has not been charged with any crimes in connection with the indictments that were issued in 2019."
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- Federal, state investigators raid Local 98 Hall, Dougherty's home
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