State and federal authorities executed search warrants on Friday at several locations connected to influential Philadelphia labor leader John Dougherty, including his home, a bar, his union hall and a councilman’s office in City Hall. The searches are part of an investigation that has been reportedly been underway for months.
FBI spokeswoman Carrie Adamowski confirmed that agents have fanned out across Philadelphia, but would only say the probe into Dougherty is “ongoing,” without disclosing the nature of the raids. FBI agents told reporters, “no, sorry,” as they were asked for comment walking out of Dougherty’s home.
Dougherty, known more commonly as Johnny Doc, is head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 in Philadelphia. It’s a powerful union that is one of the biggest spenders in Pennsylvania politics. (This disclosure, his union also represents engineers at WHYY).
He paced back and forth in front of his home on Moyamensing Avenue in South Philly as federal investigators carried out boxes of evidence into vehicles. He chatted with his attorney and friends and family.
Other unmarked boxes coming out of Doc’s place. pic.twitter.com/WTgSnH1jvG
— Bobby Allyn (@BobbyAllyn) August 5, 2016
“The house is exactly the same since the last time I had 75 people here, except for a few new tomato bushes,” said Dougherty, wearing a white button-down shirt and a 76ers cap. “This will play out. This is nothing,” he said of the federal investigation.
“I’ve had many, many subpoenas and many, many visits. I’m not making rookie mistakes,” he said, “I’ve been doing this for 25 years.”
Asked if he thinks federal authorities have it out for him, Dougherty replied: “I don’t know. You guys will have to figure that out. Maybe I win too much.”
Meanwhile at the headquarters of IBEW Local 98’s union hall on Spring Garden Street, authorities cordoned off the building with crime-scene tape while agents came in and out of the building.
The office of City Councilman Bobby Henon, who was formerly Local 98’s political director, was also being searched. While an officer stood outside, Henon did not appear to be inside. Normally council members would not be in the office on a Friday in the summer. Calls to Henon’s office and union headquarters rang unanswered.
The searches come after the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in February that federal investigators were examining the circumstances around a confrontation outside of a South Philadelphia work site. Dougherty allegedly punched a nonunion contractor, an allegation that the labor boss has denied. Neither state nor federal authorities have brought charges against Dougherty for his alleged involvement in the fight.
At the time, the FBI would not comment on why federal authorities were looking into the scuffle, the type of incident that would typically be pursued by local prosecutors, not federal investigators.
But the episode hinted that federal prosecutors likely have a larger interest in the dealings of Dougherty, who has led the politically powerful electricians union since 1993.
When asked to comment on the investigation, Mayor Jim Kenney, a recipient of significant support from Dougherty replied, “I know basically what you know, and as it plays out, we’ll see what happens, but I don’t have any other information and you can ask the question 20 different ways, but there won’t be any comment because I don’t have any information.”
When asked about his close association with Dougherty and whether it will hurt him, Kenney responded, “They can think what they want.”
Councilman Curtis Jones when asked if he still has full faith in Bobby Henon, he said, “I have full faith in me, and I have full faith in my institution of City Council, totally. The presumption of innocence always has to be there. And I take no pleasure at all in anyone else’s troubles, because it splashes on everyone.”
Bobby Allyn, Aaron Moselle, and Katie Colaneri contributed to this report