Federal judge: ‘Johnny Doc’ will face separate trials on embezzlement and corruption

A judge has ruled the John Dougherty case will be divided into two trials because a single proceeding would “unduly prejudice” the defendants in the case.


John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty, Local 98 leader, speaks to the media as he departs the federal courthouse, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A federal judge has ruled the criminal case filed against Philadelphia labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, City Councilmember Bobby Henon and a handful of union officials will be divided into two trials.

Dougherty, business manager for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), will be part of both proceedings, which will essentially be divided to weigh embezzlement and political corruption charges separately.

In an order released Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl found that holding a single trial covering the entire 116-count indictment would “unduly prejudice” Henon and the defendants not named in the charges against the three-term Democrat.

“Additionally, requiring a single jury to compartmentalize all the evidence and counts in a single trial is unfeasible,” wrote Schmehl.

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Under the order, one jury will consider counts 1-96 of the indictment. Another jury will weigh counts 97-116 of the indictment in a second trial.

The first set of charges largely pertains to what Schmehl refers to as the “embezzlement counts.”

Prosecutors say Dougherty, along with four union members, stole more than $600,000 from Local 98, the union that also represents engineers at WHYY. The group allegedly spent the money on a long list of personal items, concert tickets, vacations and Red Bull.

Dougherty is also accused of using union funds to pay for construction work at his home and at the homes of family members.

Additionally, the first trial will cover charges involving allegations that Dougherty used his position as business manager of Local 98 to swap bribes with MJK Electric, a New Jersey-based electrical company.

The second trial will focus squarely on the criminal charges Schmehl collectively refers to as the “corruption counts.”

Prosecutors say Dougherty and Henon engaged in a quid pro quo agreement designed to benefit both men.

Dougherty is accused of providing Henon “a stream of benefits” exceeding $10,000, as well as $70,000 a year for a no-show job with the union. In exchange, Henon allegedly used his position on Council to do Dougherty’s bidding.

For example, at Dougherty’s request, Henon allegedly used the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections to halt the installation of MRI equipment at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, which had hired a non-union contractor to do the work.

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All defendants accused in the indictment have pleaded not guilty.

A single trial was scheduled to start in January 2021. It’s unclear when jury selection for each of the two trials will now begin.

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