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Federal agents launched another raid at the Local 98 electricians’ union headquarters in Philadelphia between spells of rain on Friday morning.
This is the second such raid on the Spring Garden Street building since the federal investigation into the union’s activities exploded into public view four years ago.
An FBI spokesperson confirmed to the Inquirer that agents arrived around 7 a.m., and the paper later reported that the search warrant related to union leadership allegedly making threats of violence “against dissidents in their ranks.”
The raid comes as union leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, City Councilmember Bobby Henon and a host of other union officials inch toward their trial date over alleged bribery and embezzlement schemes.
It remains unclear whether that hunt relates to the ongoing federal court case — or a separate investigation altogether. The local FBI field office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Frank Keel, a spokesperson for Local 98, said union leadership was blindsided by the raid.
“John Dougherty has been under federal scrutiny for 28 years and has never once failed to cooperate,” Keel wrote in an emailed statement. “Everything they took today, they either took previously or could have simply asked for it and we would have turned it over.”
Sources told the Inquirer that Friday’s search warrant “sought evidence of potential crimes raging from witness intimidation and embezzlement to conspiracy and unauthorized access to a computer.”
Said Keel: “Local 98 has no comment with respect to the specifics of the search warrant inasmuch as the union has no knowledge as to the scope or specific focus of the government’s apparent investigation.”
According to the 116-count indictment unsealed last year, U.S. prosecutors allege Dougherty and other union members siphoned more than $600,000 from the politically powerful chapter of the electricians’ union.
Prosecutors also claim Henon, a former electrician and current paid employee of Local 98, carried out Dougherty’s bidding in City Hall in exchange for a plum side gig. The defendants have denied all charges.
The trial date is set for January 2021.