A Philadelphia city councilman, a union leader and six others were charged Wednesday in a massive 116-count indictment that alleged embezzlement, wire fraud and bribery among numerous other public corruption offenses.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced Wednesday that Democratic Councilman Robert Henon, John Dougherty (head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98) and other union employees were charged by the grand jury for allegedly using union funds for personal and other unauthorized expenses.
Dougherty allegedly had three Local 98 American Express cards in his name and permitted others to use them to make personal purchases including groceries, household goods and restaurant meals.
According to the indictment, Henon also received a salary and other things of value from Dougherty and, in exchange, Henon used his position as a member of the City Council to serve Dougherty’s interests. According to the indictment, the two "attempted to hide the true nature of their illegal relationship from the public."
In 2015 and 2016, for example, Dougherty allegedly gave Henon tickets to sporting events with a value of approximately $11,807 -- paid for by Local 98.
Henon allegedly used his role as councilman to implement and propose legislation that would benefit Dougherty.
“Union leaders and public officials have similar duties in our society,” Williams said in a statement Wednesday. “Whether it is a fiduciary duty to the union’s membership to spend union funds on union business, or a public official’s duty to provide honest services to his constituents, leaders in these kinds of roles must act in the best interests of others. They cannot use their public positions and influence to enrich themselves. If they do, it is a violation of their duties and of federal law.”
Dougherty, 58, was charged with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plan; 34 counts of embezzlement and theft from labor union assets; 23 counts of wire fraud thefts from Local 98; and a variety of fraud and other counts.
Henon, 50, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and bribery, as well as 14 counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud and four counts of bribery. Henon denied the allegations.
“I have done nothing wrong. I have spent 28 years proudly working for Local 98. In 2011, I ran for City Council to give a voice to honest men and women, working Philadelphians and those in need of a strong voice to represent them in this great city,” Henon said. “I have always reported every penny of my union income to the City, and the State. I have never committed fraud in my life. I have always served my constituents with honesty, integrity and have always put my constituents and the people of Philadelphia first.”
He added: “I will continue to serve, I look forward to clearing my name and I will never waiver in my pursuit to protect and serve the working people who live in and built this city.”
The other six Local 98 employees were charged for similar allegations.
Dougherty and Local 98 employees charged could not immediately be reached for comment.
The indictment charged Doughterty and Henon with multiple public corruption charges, alleging that they defrauded the city of Philadelphia and its citizens of “the right to Henon’s honest service as a member of City Council,” the U.S. attorneys’ office said Wednesday.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor Office’s inspector general, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office. The case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys Richard Barrett, Frank Costello, John Gallagher and Paul Gray.
“When union leaders misdirect the organization’s money for personal gain, they’re breaching their obligation to members – and breaking the law,” Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division, said in a statement. “Such corruption must not go unchecked. No matter how long it takes, the FBI and our partners will investigate and work to hold accountable unscrupulous union and public officials.
Fox News' Jake Gibson contributed to this report.