Philadelphia IBEW Contractor Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud, Theft

For Donald Dougherty, the old habits wouldn’t go away. That’s why he’s likely to go to prison. On January 21, Dougherty, a Philadelphia-based electrical contractor, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to one count each of tax fraud and theft related to his work with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98. Several members of that Philadelphia union were indicted by a grand jury two years ago. Dougherty and an accountant for his firm, Michael McKale, were indicted separately this past November 25 on multiple fraud and theft charges. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration, and Office of Inspector General.

Donald “Gus” Dougherty, now 54, a resident of Philadelphia, no relation to indicted IBEW Local 98 Business Manager John Dougherty, is the longtime owner-operator of Dougherty … Read More ➡

Contractor, Accountant Indicted in Philadelphia IBEW Scandal

The net has grown wider for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, if not necessarily for its allied power brokers at Philadelphia City Hall. On November 25, Donald “Gus” Dougherty and Michael McKale, respectively, a Local 98 contractor and an accountant for Dougherty’s firm, were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on multiple fraud and theft charges. The alleged acts included avoiding required contributions to union benefit plans, making false statements on a mortgage loan application, and placing Dougherty’s wife in a no-show union job. The charges are part of a much larger ongoing investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General. The corruption broke wide open nearly two years ago.

Electrical Workers Local 98, now with some 5,000 dues-paying members, for years has been a powerful presence … Read More ➡

IBEW President in Arkansas Sentenced for Embezzlement

On November 13, Michael Johnson, former president and business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1658, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to five years of probation, with the first six months to be spent on a monitored curfew, for embezzling $9,317 in funds from the Pine Bluff-based union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution. Johnson had been charged this past March, pleading guilty immediately afterward. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  … Read More ➡

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; Pleads Guilty

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. He then pleaded guilty. 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 ➡