Former Philadelphia Labor Leader “Johnny Doc” Dougherty Found Guilty of Embezzlement Charges

8 December 2023

John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and co-defendant Brian Burrows convicted of misusing over $650,000 in union funds for personal expenses.

Former Philadelphia labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and his co-defendant Brian Burrows have been found guilty on multiple counts in their federal embezzlement trial. Prosecutors alleged that Dougherty, the former business manager of IBEW Local 98 and the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, used over $650,000 in union funds for personal expenses, including home renovations, meals, concerts, and groceries. Defense attorneys portrayed Dougherty as a hardworking leader trying to account for his expenses while working tirelessly for union members.

Conviction and Allegations

Dougherty, who led Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for nearly three decades, was convicted of conspiracy, embezzlement, and dozens of other charges after a monthlong trial. Federal prosecutors accused Dougherty and his co-defendant, Burrows, of intentionally stealing union funds. They alleged that the defendants instructed contractor Anthony Massa to perform work at their personal homes while billing the union for it. The prosecution also presented evidence of thousands of dollars in union credit card expenses for personal items and celebrations.

Evidence and Testimony

During the trial, the jury heard government wiretap recordings and testimonies from witnesses. One witness, Anthony Massa, claimed to have overseen thousands of dollars in improvements at the Philadelphia home of Dougherty’s brother, Kevin, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice. However, a lawyer for Justice Kevin Dougherty later dismissed Massa as an “admitted liar.” The jury deliberated for several days before reaching a verdict.

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Previous Conviction and Political Influence

This is not the first time Dougherty has faced legal trouble. He was previously convicted of bribery for keeping a city council member on the union payroll to maintain control over construction jobs. The former council member, Bobby Henon, is currently serving a 3 1/2-year prison term. Dougherty, known for his political influence in Pennsylvania, has been a powerful player in state politics for years.

Defense’s Perspective

Defense lawyer Gregory Pagano argued that the spending by Dougherty and Burrows was due to negligence, not fraud. He claimed that Dougherty believed “you have to spend money to make money” and that his client worked tirelessly for the union. The defense team maintained that Dougherty was a hardworking leader who was trying to account for his expenses.

Conclusion: The conviction of former Philadelphia labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and his co-defendant Brian Burrows on multiple counts of embezzlement highlights the misuse of union funds for personal expenses. The trial revealed allegations of intentional theft and the use of union funds for home renovations, concerts, and groceries. While defense attorneys argued that Dougherty was a dedicated leader, the jury found him guilty. This case serves as a reminder of the importance of transparency and accountability in union leadership and raises questions about the ethical conduct of those in positions of power. Dougherty’s sentencing is scheduled for March 20, and he is also set to face trial in another case involving an extortion charge.

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