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
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.