Dougherty pleads guilty, may face prison

May 19, 2008 4:45:01 PM PDT
Philadelphia electrician Gus Dougherty has pleaded guilty to giving union leader John Dougherty a break. That's not to say that John Dougherty necessarily knew the break was coming or even asked for it. Gus Dougherty now admits he never intended to submit a bill for the full $115,000 worth of renovations he performed at a house in South Philadelphia. The house is owned by Electricians Union boss John Dougherty, who's a longtime friend, but no relation.

Gus Dougherty is an electrical contractor whose employees are members of the Electricians Union. The guilty plea turns up the heat on John Dougherty, who is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, but hasn't been charged with anything.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anita Eve says, "It is illegal for the Union official to knowingly accept things below fair market value."

John Dougherty released a statement today saying he has done nothing wrong and had no idea what Gus Dougherty might have been up to. He also says he hopes this ends any further investigation or speculation. But, that's not likely.

John Dougherty was expected to be called as the key defense witness in Gus Dougherty's trial. He refused to testify without a grant of immunity. The government fought that effort.

Eve says, "I think that Mr. Gray put forth a pretty good argument as to why they weren't going to prevail on getting immunity for John Dougherty."

Gus Dougherty has previously pled guilty to 98 other charges. He operated on a cash payroll and pocketed close to a million dollars that should have gone to Local 98 as benefits for his employees.

He had no comment after pleading guilty. His lawyer says he just wanted to get the case behind him and move on with his life. He's likely to get about three and a half years in jail when he is sentenced in August.