8 accused in Local 98 indictment to appear in court Friday

Steve Tawa
January 31, 2019 - 4:00 am
Jennifer Arbittier Williams, first assistant U.S. Attorney, discusses the federal indictment at a press conference involving John Dougherty and Bobby Henon.

Kristen Johanson/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — While the eight people named in Wednesday's 116-count public corruption indictment are due to appear in court Friday before a magistrate, the feds say the investigation is ongoing. Union leader John Dougherty and Councilman Bobby Henon have repeatedly denied the allegations. 

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams says federal grand jury's 116-count indictment charges Dougherty, who has led Local 98 for 25 years and his associates with conspiring to embezzle more than $600,000 in union funds.

"To line their pockets, pay their family members, fix up their homes, go on personal trips, and eat expensive meals — all unrelated to union business — but paid out of union bank accounts," she said.

RELATED: City Hall abuzz after Henon, Dougherty charges, but no one's saying much

Williams had plenty to say about the connections between the union leader and the councilman, including Henon's Local 98 salary and benefits.

"In exchange for Henon advancing Dougherty's personal, professional and financial agenda," she said.

Williams alleges Henon used his position to benefit Dougherty, and as she put it, "to do his bidding" — for instance, when "Johnny Doc" was upset that non-union labor was installing MRI machines at Children's Hospital.

"Henon got involved and tried to use his influence as a city councilman to stop the work," she said. "The indictment alleges that Henon abdicated his duty to provide honest services to the city of Philadelphia, because he made decisions on behalf of John Dougherty."

The indictment includes personal vendettas, too, such as when Dougherty's car was about to be towed, and the worker demanded cash to release it.

"The indictment charges that John Dougherty sought revenge," she said, "and told Henon that he needed to take action against the towing company."

Williams alleges that Henon drafted a resolution to investigate that towing company's operations. 

She also alleges Dougherty leaned on Henon to oppose an audit of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

The charges against Dougherty, Henon, five more Local 98 officials and a businessman include conspiracy to embezzle, embezzlement and theft of labor union assets, wire and mail fraud, and other public corruption offenses.

RELATED: Kenney 'sad' about Local 98 indictment, says it has nothing to do with him

Reporters asked about whether the feds considered charging Mayor Jim Kenney.

"Mayor Kenney is not a defendant," she said, "and he is not named anywhere in this indictment."

U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain was in the room, but he did not go to the podium. Williams said McSwain recused himself, because he was in private practice when the 2016 raids of Dougherty's property and the follow-up investiation happened.

"To avoid any conflicts or any appearance of conflicts, while he was in private practice at the Drinker, Biddle law firm," she said.