Former Union Boss Begins Racketeering and Conspiracy Trial

Trial Begins for Former Ironworkers Union Leader for Racketeering and Conspiracy

racketeering and conspiracyOn Monday, January 5th, a former Union boss for the Ironworkers Local 401 in Philadelphia went to trial for federal charges including intimidation, racketeering and conspiracy. Other defendants in the case opted to a plea deal, so “the Don” will stand trial alone.

According to federal prosecutors, 73-year-old Joseph Dougherty created “goon squads” within the ironworkers’ union, which he used to threaten builders, smash beams, and burn down jobsites if potential employers did not use more union help.

“A lot of these union members faced a very stark choice. Join the goon squad … or get in the back of the line (for work),” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Livermore said in opening statements Monday.

When local membership in the ironworkers’ union dropped during the Great Recession due to lack of construction jobs, the mob mentality within the union got worse, prosecutors alleged. Rogue members who feared losing all income, who agreed to do “night work” wielded baseball bats and torches to threaten employers on behalf of the union, and were then given favorable placement on union job lists. They even went so far as to call themselves THUGS: “The Helpful Union Guys.”

Eleven former defendants pleaded guilty to arson, racketeering and conspiracy charges related to the 2012 fire at the new Quaker house of worship. They admitted to damaging all kinds of buildings, including schools, stores, and restaurants that were under construction in order to force more union jobs.

Dougherty alone pleaded not guilty to the slew of racketeering and conspiracy charges, in favor of going to trial. Dougherty’s attorney claimed in court that the defendant “did not invent ‘Night Work,’” and that Dougherty should not be blamed for mob behavior on the part of the union, when the practice had been institutionalized for a long time.

“There has been a long tradition of night work within the Ironworkers Local 401 stretching back 50 years or more,” prosecutors said in one plea memo filed in the case. “(But) the defendants in this case took (it) to a new level.”

Prosecutors added that Dougherty’s $200,000 annual income from the union promoted the racketeering and conspiracy problems within the Ironworkers Local.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Racketeering and Other RICO Charges

RICO charges involve the operation of an illegal business or enterprise, including fraudulent scams, for an individual or entity’s personal profit.

The Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and similar state racketeering laws give the government a tremendous amount of power to go after those accused of racketeering.

Being arrested or investigated for federal criminal charges can be very stressful. However, just because you are under a great deal of pressure does not mean that you are automatically guilty, or that you have no rights in court. For experienced RICO and federal criminal charges defense attorneys who will fight for your rights and work to have your charges reduced or even dismissed, contact the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, today. We offer free, confidential consultations so that you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity, in a safe environment. Do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.

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