Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that they were on scene at the headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98 in Philadelphia on October 16, 2020.
The arrival of the FBI came just over a week after it had been announced that a federal bribery trial had been postponed. The trial involved union leader “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and City Councilmember Bobby Henon.
In August of 2016, the FBI raided IBEW headquarters and Dougherty’s home in South Philadelphia. Feds also searched City Hall and district offices belonging to Henon at the time.
Dougherty, Henon, and six others were indicted on embezzlement and fraud charges in February of 2019.
According to the 116-count indictment, Dougherty exerted complete control over the union, using his power to “repeatedly and persistently steal its funds and put his own self-interests over that of the membership.” Officials said that the defendants misspent more than $600,000 in union funds.
Dougherty leads two union groups: the IBEW, which has around 5,000 members, and the city’s Building Trades Council, an umbrella group with over 70,000 members. He has been in charge of the IBEW for 25 years.
The union has become a major political donor over the years, spending tens of millions of dollars through its political action committees (PACs), mostly to help Democrats in Pennsylvania.
According to the indictment, Dougherty used union credit cards for personal purchases, such as to buy groceries and household goods, and to splurge at restaurants. He allowed his friends to do the same. Dougherty allegedly used union funds to pay contractors to work on his home and bar in South Philadelphia.
Prosecutors said that Dougherty also put friends and family members on the union payroll, paying out raises and overtime for hours they did not work, and used them to do personal tasks.
Officials also wrote in the unsealed indictment that Councilman Bobby Henon, a former union official, was paid a $70,000 union salary to push for Dougherty’s interests at City Hall. Prosecutors said that Henon used his position to pressure Comcast Corp., the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and other businesses to use union labor.
In 2019, both IBEW leader Dougherty and Councilman Henon pleaded not guilty to the charges.