FBI Raids Office of Philadelphia Electrical Workers Local

Don’t tell International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 that lightning can’t strike twice in the same place. For them, it’s now happened. Around 7 A.M., October 16, FBI agents raided the headquarters of the Philadelphia union in search of evidence of threats of violent retaliation by union leaders against certain dissenting members. Authorities would not say if the search was related to an August 2016 FBI raid connected to an influence-peddling scandal implicating IBEW Local 98 Business Manager John Dougherty, Philadelphia City Council Member Bobby Henon, and certain other persons. That case produced multiple indictments a couple years later for bribery, embezzlement, concealment, and tax evasion. A former City official and an unindicted contractor thus far have pleaded guilty.

IBEW Local 98, with about 5,000 active members, for decades has been close to Philadelphia’s construction industry and City Hall. Some might say too close. On January 30, 2019, a … Read More ➡

IBEW Business Manager in Pennsylvania Sentenced for Benefit Fraud

Melvin Fishburn couldn’t delay the inevitable forever. Belatedly, he is going away for a while. On March 5, Fishburn, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 743 and a trustee of the pension plan of the Reading, Pa.-based union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to 15 months in prison plus three years of supervised release for stealing funds from the plan. He also was ordered to pay $81,413 in restitution and an $800 special assessment. He had pleaded guilty last July to four counts each of embezzlement and wire fraud. The actions follow an investigation by Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and the Employee Benefit Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, Fishburn, now 57, a resident of Charleston, S.C., during July 2010-June 2014 concocted an elaborate scheme to divert retirement plan assets to his own personal use. He created a … Read More ➡

President of Arkansas Electrical Workers Local Charged with Theft

On March 6, Michael Johnson, former president and business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1658, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas with one count of embezzling $9,317 in funds from the Pine Bluff union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Philadelphia IBEW Associate Sentenced for Fraud

The decline of the corrupt old guard at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 continues. On January 27, James Moylan, a close ally of the powerful Philadelphia union, and for a while chairman of the City of Philadelphia’s zoning board, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to 15 months in prison and three years of supervised release for wire fraud and tax evasion. He also will have to pay $130,783 in combined restitution to the union and the IRS, plus a $10,000 fine and a $400 special assessment. Moylan had pleaded guilty in October. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Labor Department, and the Pennsylvania State Police and Attorney General’s Office.

Union Corruption Update has covered this case since January 2019, when a federal grand jury handed down a 116-count indictment against eight persons for a wide … Read More ➡

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Perhaps more than usual, corruption stories in 2019 involved the overlapping worlds of unions and politics. In Chicago, former Teamster boss John T. Coli Sr., whose ability to cut deals with City Hall and the Illinois legislature for years went virtually unchallenged, pleaded guilty in July to shaking down a television studio owner. One of his allies, State Senator Tom Cullerton, was hit with multiple embezzlement charges. In Boston, two city officials were convicted of putting the squeeze on a concert promoter on behalf of a Theatrical Employees local. In Philadelphia, an Electrical Workers business manager and seven other persons, including a city councilman, were indicted in January for embezzlement, wire fraud and bribery; a contractor and a fundraiser subsequently pleaded guilty.

The overlap of union and government interests was especially marked in the public sector. Unions, still smarting from the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in 2018, … Read More ➡

Associate of Philadelphia IBEW Boss Pleads Guilty to Fraud

James Moylan is about the last person that International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 wants to see taking the witness stand. But those fears might be realized. On October 16, Moylan, a longtime friend of John Dougherty, business manager of the powerful Philadelphia union, pleaded guilty in federal court to 17 counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing false income tax returns in connection with his theft of around $49,000 from two nonprofit groups, each in some way supported by the union. He had been charged in January following a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration, plus the Pennsylvania State Police and Attorney General’s Office.

IBEW Local 98, now with about 4,700 members, for years has held a prominent place in the overlapping worlds of Philadelphia labor, real estate … Read More ➡

Hawaii IBEW Boss, Family Members Indicted for $1.4M in Thefts

At International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260, stealing was a family business. And business hasn’t been good lately. On August 22, a Honolulu federal court unsealed a 70-count indictment against Brian Ahakuelo, former business manager for the Honolulu local, along with his wife and a sister-in-law, for conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud and embezzlement related to the disappearance of an estimated $1.4 million in union funds. Ahakuelo and the two others subsequently pleaded not guilty. They will have to contend with indictments handed down the next day of four union members who allegedly rigged a union vote in 2015 to approve a dues hike to cover the losses. The indictments follow a five-year probe by the IRS, the Labor Department and the State of Hawaii.

IBEW Local 1260 represents more than 3,200 utility, broadcast, maintenance and contract workers in Hawaii, Guam and Wake Island. For at least five years, … Read More ➡

Philadelphia-Area Contractor Sentenced for Theft, Bribery in IBEW Corruption Probe

For George Peltz, running a business and ripping off a union often meant the same thing. That’s why he’s no longer involved in either. On May 20, Peltz, a Philadelphia-area contractor, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to 18 months in prison and two years of probation for bribery, theft from a benefit fund, and tax fraud related to his dealings with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98. He also paid nearly $1 million in restitution. Peltz had pleaded guilty in January. The actions are part of a larger federal and state joint probe of corruption in Philadelphia that thus far has implicated a city council member, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, a couple of contractors and several Local 98 officials.

Union Corruption Update earlier had analyzed a sweeping federal indictment unsealed on January 30 against eight persons in the overlapping worlds of … Read More ➡

IBEW Business Manager in Philadelphia, Seven Others Indicted

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 in Philadelphia used to be an open cash register for certain members and outside persons. Now the register has been closed. Last Wednesday, January 30, local Business Manager John Dougherty and seven other persons, including a Philadelphia city councilman, were charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in a 116-count indictment alleging a wide range of offenses including embezzlement, wire fraud and bribery. The defendants, all of whom have pleaded not guilty, during April 2010-August 2016 allegedly used union funds for unauthorized uses. It was in August 2016 that FBI agents raided over a dozen union construction sites, homes and offices following a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS, several agencies within the Department of Labor, and Pennsylvania State Police.

Electrical Workers Local 98 is no stranger to Union Corruption Update. More than a decade ago, a unionized … Read More ➡

Court Reinstates Conviction of New Jersey Electrical Workers Business Agent

IBEW logoFor a while, Richard “Buzzy” Dressel wasn’t certain whether he would be headed for prison. He’s more certain now. On August 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reinstated the jury guilty verdict of Dressel, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164, on charges of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Paramus, N.J.-based union and its job training fund. In reversing U.S. District Judge William Martini’s decision of April 2014 that had tossed out two embezzlement convictions, the appellate court stated: “The jury’s verdict was not irrational, as there was sufficient evidence to convict Dressel of embezzling union funds.” Dressel allegedly had used the money to provide his girlfriend (and now wife) with a no-show union job and to bankroll her catering business with a no-bid contract.

Union Corruption Update reported on this case twice before. Back in November 2012, Richard … Read More ➡