Members of Ironworkers Local 401 arrested Tuesday

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.” ••

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