Union Leader Gets 8 Years for Torched Quaker meeting House, Extortion

The union leader accused of being the biggest advocate of using violence and intimidation to maintain power and jobs in Philadelphia will spend 8 years in prison after pleading guilty to racketeering, extortion and arson.

Edward Sweeney, 56, admitted his role in torching two sites under construction, including a Quaker meeting house in the city, and trying to set fire to a third when contractors for those jobs refused to hire union ironworkers from Local 401.

Sweeney pleaded guilty last Sept. to RICO conspiracy, maliciously damaging property by means of fire, use of fire to commit a felony and a number of related charges.

Along with his prison sentence of 96 months, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson ordered Sweeney to pay $217,000 in restitution. When his prison term is over, Sweeney will have three years of supervised release.

Three more defendants will be sentenced in the case, which was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Labor, Philly police and East Whiteland Twp. Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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