Documents reveal new details in Local 98 union investigation

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Documents reveal new details in Local 98 union investigation
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Documents reveal new details in Local 98 union investigation: Dann Cuellar reports on Action News at 11 p.m., January 29, 2019

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It looks like Wednesday will be the day that federal authorities in Philadelphia announce charges in their long-running investigation into Local 98 of the electricians union.

The big question is will they charge former Local 98 leader Johnny Dougherty.

Dougherty issued a statement to union members Tuesday night which read, in part: "Remember the easiest way to never forget where you came from is to never leave. I look forward to seeing you at our next union meeting."

Federal investigators have been investigating Dougherty for several years.

Agents raided his home and offices in August of 2016, as well as those of Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon. So far neither has been charged, but a charging document unsealed Monday shed new light on the investigation.

In light of word of likely charges in federal probe, Henon's office released a statement saying he will continue to serve as councilman. The statement also said he's "confident his colleagues will respect any possible upcoming legal process and support him."

Local 98 member George Peltz, owner of MJK Electric, pleaded guilty to tax and other charges, including unlawful payments to a union official.

In the charging document, Peltz allegedly provided roughly $60,000 worth of electrical work and gift cards to an official and his relatives at the direction of the official who was not named and identified as Local 98 Official No. 1.

Action News spoke with George Parry, a well-known defense attorney and a former federal prosecutor to get his take.

"If union Official No. 1 is who we think it is, he is going to be looking at a lot bigger charges," said Parry.

In a Department of Labor financial filing from earlier this year obtained by Action News, Local 98 Business Manager, which is Dougherty's official title, advised that $248,000 in legal bills were "mistakenly paid by the local union" over a 6-year period.

The filing states: "those legal fees, with interest, were repaid in July of 2018."

Attempts to reach Dougherty or his attorney for comments on the labor filing have been unsuccessful.

Parry expects a slew of additional charges and a very solid case.

"In federal court, every case begins the same way. The government is rounding third for home and you are really up against it as a defense lawyer and defendant," said Parry.


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