Federal authorities on Tuesday arrested 10 members of Ironworkers Local 401 on charges they allegedly participated in a conspiracy to commit criminal acts of extortion, arson, destruction of property and assault, in order to force construction contractors to hire union ironworkers.
Specifically, the indictment charges RICO conspiracy, violent crime in aid of racketeering, three counts of arson, two counts of use of fire to commit a felony, and conspiracy to commit arson. Eight of the 10 individuals named in the indictment are charged with conspiring to use Ironworkers Local 401 as an enterprise to commit criminal acts. Joseph Dougherty, 72, of Philadelphia, the financial secretary/business manager of Local 401, was one of the eight individuals charged with racketeering conspiracy.
The indictment details incidents in which the defendants threatened or assaulted contractors or their employees, and damaged construction equipment and job sites as part of a concerted effort to force contractors to hire and pay Local 401 workers, even when those workers performed no function. Among the criminal acts set forth in the indictment is the December 2012 arson of a Quaker Meetinghouse under construction in Northwest Philadelphia.
Charged along with Dougherty are: business agents Edward Sweeney, 55, of Philadelphia; Francis Sean O’Donnell, 43, of Warminster; Christopher Prophet, 43, of Richboro; William O’Donnell, 61, of Cherry Hill, N.J.; union members James Walsh, 49, William Gillin, 42, Richard Ritchie, 44, Daniel Hennigar, 53, and Greg Sullivan, 49, all of Philadelphia.
The indictment alleges that business agents would approach construction foremen at those work sites and imply or explicitly threaten violence, destruction of property, or other criminal acts unless union members were hired.
It is alleged that the defendants created “goon” squads, composed of union members and associates, to commit assaults, arsons and destruction of property. One such squad referred to itself as the “The Helpful Union Guys,” “T.H.U.G’s.” ••