PHILADELPHIA – The federal indictment and subsequent investigation of local labor union leader John Dougherty has also brought a cloud of suspicion over his brother, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Justice Kevin Dougherty, who is suspected of receiving benefits courtesy of union funds that his brother embezzled.
On Jan. 30, John Dougherty, in addition to Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon and six other individuals, was indicted by federal authorities on a staggering 116 counts, related to his alleged efforts to divert more than $600,000 of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 98 money into a personal slush fund over the course of six years, spanning 2010 to 2016.
In a 159-page indictment released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, John Dougherty is accused of embezzlement, wire fraud and public corruption in using ill-gotten union money to pay for home and business repairs, construction projects, luxury items and personal expenses, among a litany of other charges.
“When union leaders misdirect the organization’s money for personal gain, they’re breaching their obligation to members – and breaking the law. Such corruption must not go unchecked. No matter how long it takes, the FBI and our partners will investigate and work to hold accountable unscrupulous union and public officials,” Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division, said at a recent press conference announcing the charges.
On Feb. 1, Dougherty pled not guilty to all charges.
John Dougherty, also known as “Johnny Doc," is the union’s business manager and has controlled IBEW 98 for more than a quarter-century, becoming an instrumental powerhouse in Philadelphia’s political machine and donating large amounts of money to candidates both in the city and statewide, for an array of political and judicial offices.
Among the candidates who have benefited from IBEW 98 support and campaign contributions over the years is the union boss’ brother, Justice Kevin Dougherty – a former Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas judge who won election to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 2015, and who records show received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from IBEW 98 and donors connected to the union in that race.
Included in the indictment is a charge that John Dougherty directed contractors to perform a week’s worth of construction, repair and painting work on an unidentified family member’s Northeast Philadelphia home in 2011, plus snow removal services at that same location on Jan. 23, 2016 – all paid for with funds allegedly embezzled from the union.
Federal authorities have not officially confirmed the Supreme Court justice as the unnamed individual in question and levied no charges against him.
“I cannot comment on things beyond the four corners of the indictment, there are various individuals referenced throughout the indictment, and not named. I’m not permitted to identify who those individuals may be or may not be,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams stated.
Justice Dougherty has also declined comment on the matter.
The justice is represented by attorney Courtney Saleski of DLA Piper, who said in a statement that Justice Dougherty personally paid for any work done at his residence, did not have reason to know who performed snow removal there and always properly disclosed any gifts he received.
Judges in Pennsylvania are mandated to report gifts worth more than $250 on annual disclosure forms, and Dougherty reported no such gifts in 2011, when the contracting work is said to have taken place. Though judges don’t have to report gifts from family members, if IBEW 98 paid for the work in question, the union would be considered the source of the gift – which then requires official disclosure.
“Kevin Dougherty is an honest public servant who has done nothing wrong,” Saleski said.
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at email@example.com