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3rd federal trial for former Philadelphia union boss John Dougherty underway

READING, Pa. (CBS) — The latest federal trial for former Philadelphia electricians union boss John Dougherty is underway. A jury has been selected, opening statements were read and testimony began on Wednesday. 

The trial is the third for Dougherty, the former International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 boss, in as many years. This time, Dougherty and his nephew, Greg Fiocca, are accused of an extortion scheme. 

Prosecutors allege Fiocca assaulted a contractor in August 2020 after questions were raised about his poor job performance. Dougherty’s defense team called the allegations nonsense.

Dougherty said at the time this happened, tensions were high because of COVID-19.

“It was a COVID time and it was crazy and it was a job that nobody wanted open, including the mayor and the governor,” Dougherty said. “I fought to keep it open. It was a very complicated time. I don’t think it’s been emphasized enough but it will, it’s the first day.” 

Previous John Dougherty trials

The extortion scheme is Dougherty’s third federal trial. 

In 2023, Dougherty and ex-union president Brian Burrows were found guilty in a federal conspiracy and embezzlement trial. The jury found they used IBEW Local 98 money like it was their debit card.

“He was stealing from his members,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Costello said in December 2023. “Basically, all the charges are related to that.”

In 2021, Dougherty and former city councilmember Bobby Henon were found guilty in a corruption trial. They were found guilty on 10 of 18 corruption counts in the two-month-long trial. 

Before serving on city council, Henon was electrician and political director for IBEW 98. But after he was elected to city council, he remained on IBEW’s payroll. 

That didn’t violate city council rules, but federal prosecutors convinced a jury that Henon’s union salary wasn’t for legitimate work. A jury found Dougherty used Henon’s influence on council for personal and professional gain. Henon is currently serving a three and a half year prison sentence. 

Dougherty is set to be sentenced for the embezzlement and bribery charges in May. 

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