Baby wipes, Q-Tips, bottled water and expensive dinners were all part of an elaborate embezzlement scheme by powerful electricians' union leader John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty and Philadelphia Councilman Bobby Henon, according to a federal charging document unsealed Wednesday morning.
Dougherty, whose brother sits on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, 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."
He also helped propel Henon, a Local 98 staffer, into a powerful leadership position on the Philadelphia City Council to apply pressure to other trade groups and businesses, prosecutors allege.
“I don’t give a f--- about anybody, all right, but f---ing you and us, and you know that," Henon told Dougherty in 2015 when reassuring him about their quid pro quo relationship.
All told, the defendants, which included several IBEW Local 98 union employees and associates, misspent more than $600,000 in union funds, officials said.
The sweeping 160-page presentment alleges that Dougherty and his co-defendants conspired to embezzle union money for their own families, friends and business. They concealed these funds by falsifying documentation to make the money appear union-related, according to the indictment.
Read the complete indictment below.
Charges include conspiracy to embezzle labor union funds, falsification of labor union records, making false statements to the FBI and theft from employee benefits, among many other counts.
Dougherty and Henon have denied all of the allegations.
In addition to Dougherty and Henon, six IBEW Local 98 leaders were also named. They are:
- Brian Burrows, president since 2008
- Michael Neill, director of training since 2008
- Marita Crawford, director of government affairs
- Niko Rodriguez, former union apprentice and now-treasurer of Brighter Pennsylvania PAC
- Brian Fiocca, union employee and Dougherty's nephew
- Anthony Massa, owner and operator of Massa Construction
The defendants allegedly spent thousands of union dollars on expensive family meals, baby supplies, hair styling items and even dog food, federal officials said.
During a birthday dinner for Dougherty in 2015, Crawford used a union credit card to spend more than $1,300 at the Old Homestead restaurant, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, according to the indictment.
Crawford falsely reported to Local 98 that the birthday dinner was a “Political Campaign Meeting Hosted by John Dougherty.”
“I got a different world than most people ever exist in. I am able to take care of a lot of people all the time," Dougherty allegedly said to a family member, according to the indictment.
The alleged embezzlement outlined in the indictment took place between 2010 to 2016.
Dougherty's personal attorney, Henry Hockeimer, denied any wrongdoing on behalf of his client.
"Every move he makes is done in order to better the lives of the membership of Local 98. And the dramatic increase in wages, health care benefits and the overall standard of living for the membership is a testament to that singular focus," the statement read. "To allege that John in any way attempted to defraud the Union he cares about so deeply is preposterous."
The charges point to dizzying schemes between Dougherty and Henon that, ultimately, did benefit the union itself. In July 2015, for example, the two conspired to shut down the installation of a new MRI machine at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia because Local 98 was not given the opportunity to bid on the project. CHOP responded that the manufacturer was installing the machine in order to keep it under warranty should it fail or need repair in the future.
“It is also an L&I violation ... you don’t want a city thing shutting it down," Dougherty reportedly told a hospital administrator. "We have had other hospitals shut down because of that.”
Henon referred the dispute to the city's Department of Licenses and Inspection, which ultimately issued a stop work order for the MRI machine installation.
In another scheme, Henon and Dougherty allegedly pressured Comcast during its franchise licensing agreement talks, according to the indictment. The two warned Comcast that if the cable provider did not hire union workers to install its fiber optic network, city council would not approve the franchise agreement.
Comcast, the parent company of NBC10 and Telemundo62, said it "cooperated fully" with the federal investigation and will continue to do so as a fact witness.
The charges revealed Wednesday come more than two years after the FBI and IRS raided over a dozen offices of people connected to IBEW Local 98, including Dougherty.
Earlier this week, two additional associates were indicted.
George Peltz, a South Jersey contractor and an ally of Dougherty's, pleaded guilty to tax evasion, theft from employee benefits and other charges. He admitted to providing more than $60,000 in gifts and free work, including home and office improvements, to an unnamed union official.
Many people have speculated that unnamed official, identified simply as Official No. 1 in federal documents, is Dougherty.
Dr. James Moylan, the former Zoning Board Chairman of Philadelphia, was also indicted in connection with the investigation. Prosecutors said 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.
Despite never holding public office, the 58-year-old Dougherty has long been one of Philadelphia’s most powerful political figures.
He is head of the broader Philadelphia Building Trades Council, and has sat on influential boards, such as the Delaware River Port Authority. Many inside Philadelphia City Hall consider him to be most influential at the municipal level, where he has had a hand in securing votes for several current councilmembers, including former Local 98 protege Henon.
Henon, an electrician by trade, served as the local's political director before being elected to City Council in 2011. He represents the city's 6th District that covers the River Wards, Mayfair, Frankford and other lower Northeast Philly neighborhoods. In 2016, Henon was unanimously elected as Democratic majority leader.
A spokesman for IBEW Local 98 did not respond to a request for comment.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who received campaign support from IBEW, defended the union's right to contribute to his mayoral campaign.
Speaking to reporters at a different event Wednesday morning, Kenney said he was "sad" and disappointed by the federal charges, but is not worried that anyone in his administration will be implicated.
"We’ve had conversations with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and there’s no one in the administration or myself or anyone that is involved in that regard," he said.
The mayor recommended that Councilman Henon make the best decision for the people he represents.
“If he stepped down today, his constituents would not be represented for 10 months. So that’s certainly up to him," Kenney said.
Henon issued a statement on his Facebook page shortly after the charges were revealed.
"I want to make clear: I have done nothing wrong. I have spent 28 years proudly working for Local 98. In 2011, I ran for City Council to give a voice to honest union men and women, working Philadelphians and those in need of a strong voice to represent them in this great city," the statement read.
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."
Editor's Note: Some NBC10 employees are members of Local 98.