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

Sentencing for both men is set for late February.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
John Dougherty, Bobby Henon found guilty in corruption trial
Union boss John Dougherty and Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon were both found guilty of conspiracy and other offenses in their federal corruption trial.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Union boss John Dougherty and Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon were both found guilty of conspiracy and multiple counts of honest services wire fraud in their federal corruption trial.

In all, Dougherty was found guilty of eight of 11 charges against him. Henon was found guilty of 10 of 18 charges against him.

Prosecutors said Dougherty kept Henon, a union electrician-turned-Philadelphia City Council member, on the payroll of a $70,000 no-show job to help his union keep a tight grip on construction jobs.

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

Dougherty, the business manager of the Philadelphia-area IBEW Local 98 and the business manager of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, still faces at least one more federal trial based on charges in the sweeping 2019 indictment.

John Dougherty and Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon were both found guilty of conspiracy and other offenses in their federal corruption trial.

Sentencing for Henon is set for February 22. Sentencing for Dougherty is set for February 23.

They face up to 20 years in prison. Both plan to appeal.

"Justice was not served today, and I can't tell you how disappointed I am by the jury's decision," Dougherty said in a written statement. "What Councilman Henon and I were found guilty of is how business and politics are typically and properly conducted. I will immediately appeal and have every confidence that I will prevail in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals."

Defense lawyers insisted that there had been no undue influence and argued that the city allows council members to hold outside jobs. The defense also questioned how it was a crime for union supporter Henon to side with Dougherty and the building trades workers he was elected to represent.

"If you know that the person you're supposedly bribing is already going to do what you want, then there is no bribe," Dougherty's attorney Henry Hockeimer Jr. said in his closing argument last week.

SEE ALSO: Dougherty-Henon bribery trial: Streets commissioner claims union boss threatened his job

"He said to me he (Dougherty) could have me replaced," Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams testified. "I took it as a ... threat."

Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said there was no problem with council members having outside jobs, but Henon's salary was "a bribe in disguise."

"Henon's salary was the covert mechanism for paying the bribes," said Williams at a news conference. "Much of what Henon did was not, in fact, on public display but behind closed doors."

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."

Dougherty, a major force in Pennsylvania politics, has steered more than $30 million over the years to mostly Democratic candidates, and his brother sits on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

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.

Hockeimer called Dougherty an older-brother figure to Henon and defended his client's "bombastic" style. He scoffed at allegations that the salary and Philadelphia Eagles tickets he passed on to Henon amounted to bribes.

Former Philadelphia Councilman Rick Mariano, who went to federal prison for accepting bribes to pay his credit card bills, said in an exclusive interview on Action News back in 2019 that he had tried to convince Henon to cop a plea.

"I tried to steer him right but nobody listens to me cause I'm stupid. If I was stupid, which I'm not, I went through this," said Mariano on Monday night.

Henon has not stated if he plans to resign.

Sources tell Action News that Dougherty is contemplating stepping down as union boss for the good of the union.

Dougherty still faces a second trial on charges he and others embezzled more than $600,000 from Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.