This article originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.
Lawyers for John Dougherty, business manager of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and City Councilman Bobby Henon asked a judge Monday to dismiss multiple charges from a 116-count federal indictment against the two.
Dougherty’s attorney Henry Hockeimer Jr. and Henon’s attorney Brian J. McMonagle argued that the approximately $70,000 salary and Eagles football game tickets the union gave Henon for his work for the union in 2015 and 2016 represented a conflict of interest, and not criminality on either part of the two men.
“There is nothing out of the ordinary or unlawful about Mr. Henon continuing to be employed by Local 98. And nothing relates to his employment with the union represents bribery,” Hockeimer said. “Those two years of salary can not be considered bribes and they were not paid by John Dougherty. They were paid to Robert Henon through the union.”
Hockeimer said that the football game tickets Henon received in December 2015 were neither a “bribe or a kickback,” which is how the tickets are s described in indictment.
“There is nothing in the indictment that says Mr. Dougherty gave Mr. Henon tickets, your honor,” Hockeimer said. “And there is nothing that demonstrates that tickets were exchanged specifically for a quid pro quo.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Costello said that Henon planned to use his influence as a councilmember to do Dougherty’s bidding. Costello added that Dougherty and Henon are public officials who are well aware of “their positions and the gravity attached to them” and know “when they are and they are not serving in those capacities.”
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl did not render a ruling Monday.
Dougherty’s lawyers have also filed a motion to sever his case from Henon’s and the cases against the other defendants, and will be back in court next Tuesday.
The federal indictment, issued in January, names five other employees of IBEW Local 98 and a local business owner: President Brian Burrows, training director Michael Neill, political director Marita Crawford, union member Brian Fiocca (who is also Dougherty’s nephew), Brighter Pennsylvania PAC treasurer Nico Rodriguez and Massa Construction owner Anthony Massa.
The 116-count indictment included various charges, including conspiracy to embezzle labor union funds, falsification of labor union financial records, and making false statements to the FBI.
The indictment alleges that Dougherty and the other defendants misspent $600,000 in union funds on home repairs, sports tickets, trips and luxuries like two $88 restaurant cakes for Dougherty’s Thanksgiving dinner.
FBI officials said Dougherty pushed the passage of the city’s soda tax solely to exact revenge on the rival Teamsters Union, which feared the loss of bottling and delivery jobs; had city inspectors hold up the non-union installation of an MRI machine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and had Henon investigate a towing company that seized his car.
Dougherty and Henon have denied any wrongdoing, and both men and their attorneys declined to comment after the hearing on Monday.
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