Former State Sen. Vincent Fumo reacts to Dougherty-Henon conviction: 'That show is over'

John Dougherty tendered his resignation before the Local 98 Executive Board on Monday evening.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Former State Sen. Vincent Fumo weighs in on Dougherty-Henon conviction
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"It's over. That show is over," said former longtime Pennsylvania State Senator Vince Fumo after John Dougherty and Bobby Henon were found guilty of conspiracy charges.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Powerful Philadelphia labor leader John Dougherty has resigned from his position as business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98.

Dougherty tendered his resignation before the Local 98 Executive Board on Monday evening, the union said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. "Johnny Doc," as he's known, led the union for nearly 30 years.

Dougherty's resignation comes one day after he and City Councilman Bobby Henon were found guilty of conspiracy charges in a corruption trial.

Prosecutors said Dougherty kept Henon, a union electrician-turned-Philadelphia City Council member, on the payroll to help his union keep a tight grip on construction jobs.

"It's over. That show is over," said former longtime Pennsylvania State Senator Vince Fumo.

Prosecutors over four weeks of testimony tried to show that Dougherty used Henon to press Comcast Corp. to steer $2 million worth of electrical work to a friend during cable contract talks with the city, to shut down the non-union installation of MRI machines at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and to investigate a towing company that seized Dougherty's car.

"His biggest problem was when they 'shook down Children's Hospital.' That's like shaking down a church," Fumo said.

Dougherty and Henon have signaled they will appeal, but Fumo, who spent four years in prison after being found guilty of 137 counts of fraud, conspiracy and corruption, said the odds of beating the Feds are slim. He noted Dougherty, his former archrival, still has additional trials ahead.

SEE ALSO: Union boss John Dougherty, Philadelphia Councilman Bobby Henon found guilty in corruption trial

"I predict they will plead those cases out," said Fumo.

He believes that the smaller players involved may turn into witnesses for the prosecution due to the risk of going to jail.

Fumo thinks the Henon/Dougherty convictions will deter others from political corruption in a city, but only for a limited amount of time.

"For a while, there will be a temporary shock, but give them two or three years. They'll be right back in business," said Fumo.

In his first public appearance since the conviction, Mayor Jim Kenney defended Dougherty.

"Never asked me to do anything wrong. I wouldn't have done it anyway, but always asked for his members and the organized labor," said Kenney. "I feel bad for them. I feel bad for their families."

Kenney, however, refused to comment whether he believed the court's decision that Dougherty bought Henon's influence to help the union out.

"I have my opinion, which I won't express," Kenney said. "My opinion is not important in this."

Kenney also did not say whether he believed Henon should resign. Under Pennsylvania law, Henon would not have to until sentencing.

While the majority of City Council remained tight-lipped on the subject, one member did speak up.

"I think it would be best for him to resign at this point and focus on his appeal," said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez.

Quinones-Sanchez said it's also her goal now to introduce legislation before the elected body to tackle the questions now raised about council members with secondary jobs outside office.

"I think it's not as simple as saying absolutely nothing, but I think there are ways that we could require better disclosure," she said.

Along with Henon's $70,000 union job, he also made approximately $136,000 a year as a council member.

Their convictions follow a lengthy FBI investigation of activities within the chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Worker, but it will not mark the end of Dougherty's legal woes.

Dougherty still faces at least one more federal trial based on charges in the sweeping 2019 indictment.

U.S. Attorney Jennifer Williams called the verdict "a strong message to the political power players of this city and any city that the citizens of Philadelphia will not tolerate public corruption as business as usual."

Jurors deliberated for several days last week before announcing a verdict Monday afternoon. The defendants' sentencing is scheduled for February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.