Updated Oct. 29
It’ll be nearly a year before influential labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty stands trial on embezzlement, theft and wire fraud charges, according to court documents.
Jury selection for the Philly union boss and his seven co-defendants is scheduled to start Sept. 14, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl at the federal courthouse in Center City.
Federal prosecutors announced the indictment in January, meaning almost two years will have passed before the case reaches the trial phase.
Legal experts say the timeline isn’t unusual given the complexity of the case. There are multiple defendants, a laundry list of charges, and likely a whole lot of evidence for both sides to comb through – meticulously.
“As a defense attorney, you have to be prepared for every single document that is provided to you by the government – to provide a defense or a way to refute the documentation. It’s a painstaking process, but you have to go through everything,” said criminal defense attorney Troy Wilson, who is not part of the case.
Former federal prosecutor Lauren Ouziel said the September date was likely set by Schmehl with realistic expectations in mind. For example, a number of pretrial motions will need to be settled before a trial can begin.
“If the judge had set a trial for four months from now, it would be continued. There’s just no way that would happen,” said Ouziel.
The government alleges Dougherty and other union members stole more than $600,000 from IBEW Local 98, the politically powerful chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
The 116-count indictment also accuses City Councilman Bobby Henon of doing Dougherty’s bidding in exchange for a series of bribes, including campaign contributions and a paid union staff position he’s maintained since he was elected in 2011.
For example, Henon allegedly used Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections as a weapon against non-union labor, including a company hired to install one of its MRI machines at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dougherty and the other co-defendants are accused of raiding the union’s coffers to buy a long — long — list of items for personal use, including Bruce Springsteen tickets, bananas and baby wipes.
The five union employees cited in the indictment alongside Dougherty and Henon are Brian Burrows, Michael Neill, Marita Crawford, Niko Rodriguez and Brian Fiocca. Prosecutors also indicted Anthony Massa, who owns Philadelphia-based Massa Construction. He did work for the union as a contractor.
Dougherty and his co-defendants have all pleaded not guilty. If convicted, they could face prison time.