Former Philadelphia union boss, codefendant convicted of embezzling over $650K in funds – News21USA

Former Philadelphia union leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and a co-defendant were convicted Thursday of using more than $650,000 in union funds for personal use, marking the second conviction federal prosecutors have obtained against the high-powered figure since a broad accusation in 2019.

Dougherty, who led Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for nearly three decades, was found guilty of conspiracy, embezzlement and dozens of other charges by a jury after a month-long trial. Prosecutors said he and co-defendant Brian Burrows, former president of Local 98, used the money for items including home renovations, concerts, groceries and even a tray of cookies for the baptism of a relative’s baby.

“This was a case where all the members who paid these people’s salaries were basically looted out of their pockets, and we’re glad that we can finally hold them accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Frank Costell, quoted by The Philadelphia Inquirer, which reported the verdict.

The jury deliberated for several days after hearing evidence that included recordings of government wiretaps. One witness, Anthony Massa, allegedly testified that he oversaw thousands of dollars in improvements to the Philadelphia home of Dougherty’s brother, Kevin, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice. A court attorney later called the witness “a self-confessed liar.”

“It was a complicated case,” Dougherty said after the verdict. “The jury decided to believe Tony Massa and the case was over…Everything else just fell into place.”

Crime in Philadelphia, Lancaster and Pittsburgh

A former Philadelphia union leader has been convicted of embezzling union funds. (News21USA)

Dougherty, 63, was previously convicted of bribery for keeping a city council member on the union payroll to help maintain tight control over construction work. Former council member Bobby Henon is serving a three-and-a-half year prison sentence.

Defense attorney Gregory Pagano attributed the spending to “negligence, not fraud” and said Dougherty, long a powerful player in Pennsylvania politics, believed that “you have to spend money to make money.”

He said his client worked 24 hours a day for the union.

Prosecutors asked that Dougherty be detained after Thursday’s verdict, but U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl denied the request. He set a sentencing date in both Dougherty cases for March 20, the same month he is scheduled to face trial in a third case involving a racketeering charge.

Dougherty and Burrows were each acquitted of three charges.


Burrows will be sentenced on March 21.

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