Feds charge Philadelphia Ironworkers with extortion, arson and racketeering

ironworkers local 401
“Topping out the Comcast building.” Credit: Local401.com

Federal prosecutors today announced an indictment charging 10 members of the Philadelphia Ironworkers Union Local 401 with extorting and forcing businesses to hire their colleagues and defending their turf from non-union workers with violence.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Zane Memeger announced the charges at a press conference this morning after the 10 union members named in the indictment were arrested.

According to the indictment, members of the Ironworkers would approach foremen at construction sites where iron work was being done and “implicitly or explicitly threaten the foreman with violence, destruction of property or other criminal acts if the contractor did not hire members of the Ironworkers Local 401.”

“The defendants and their associates relied heavily on its well-earned reputation for violence and sabotage, which had been built up in the community over many years to force contractors to hire members of the Ironworkers Local 401,” the indictment states.

Ironworkers Joseph Dougherty, 72, the financial secretary/business manager of Local 401, Edward Sweeney, 55, James Walsh, 49, and William Gillin, 42, all face up to 130 years in prison on charges of racketeering.

Francis Sean O’Donnell, 43, Christopher Prophet, 43, William O’Donnell, 61, and Richard Ritchie, 44, are also charged with racketeering and face up to 20 to 40 years in prison.

Daniel Hennigar, 53, and Greg Sullivan, 49, are charged with arson and face up to 40 years in prison.

FBI agents arrested all 10 suspects this morning.

All are accused of participating in campaigns of intimidation that allegedly included “assaulting non-union employees with baseball bats, slashing the tires of vehicles, smashing vehicles with crow bars, cutting and changing the locks on construction sites, filling the locks with superglue, damaging construction equipment, stealing construction materials, and otherwise sabotaging the construction site,” according to the indictment.

Prosecutors say that union members had special “goon squads” who would go out at night to damage construction sites. One of these squads was known as T.H.U.G.s, (The Helpful Union Guys).

Furthermore, the ironworkers whom contractors were forced to hire through extortion often did not work full days or at all, the indictment states.

The indictment further alleges that from May 2010 to October 2013, the ironworkers engaged in repeated acts of sabotage and extortion — at one point sabotaging the construction site of the Quaker meetinghouse in Chestnut Hill in December 2012.

“Union officials and members who commit arson, destroy property, use threats of physical harm and engage in other acts of violence to extort victims on behalf of their union need to be criminally prosecuted,” Memeger said in a statement.

____________________

Follow Sam Newhouse on Twitter: @scnewhouse

Follow Metro Philadelphia on Twitter: @metrophilly

Follow Metro Philadelphia on Facebook: Metro Philadelphia



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.