What to Know
- IBEW Local 98 leader John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty was federally indicted on extortion charges.
- A grand jury accused Dougherty of pressuring a contractor that would not pay his nephew, Gregory Fiocca.
- The indictment says Fiocca assaulted and intimidated a contractor and threatened to "break [his] face."
A leader of the local electrician's union, John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty, is out on pretrial release Wednesday after he and a relative were federally charged with allegedly extorting a contractor.
Dougherty, business manager of IBEW Local 98, was taken into federal custody and detained at FBI's Philadelphia office ahead of a court appearance related to a 19-count grand jury indictment.
The grand jury said Dougherty got involved with the contractor amid a pay dispute with Dougherty's nephew, Gregory Fiocca, who served as an IBEW union steward for the contractor. Fiocca allegedly assaulted and threatened the contractor when he was not paid for 40 hours of work, despite working less than that, the indictment says.
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A contractor told union reps that Fiocca grabbed him by the throat and threw him on a desk while making those threats, according to the court document.
In August 2020, Fiocca allegedly threatened the contractor, saying he'd "break your f-ing jaw," according to the indictment. The document quoted him telling the unnamed person "there's nothing you can do to me. I'm getting my money."
"You think you're like, you think yous are untouchable? I'll break all of you, I'll f-ing break your face," Fiocca allegedly said.
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Later in that conversation, Fiocca said he was "calling my uncle already. We're pulling everyone off the job."
The indictment claims Dougherty threatened to forbid union electricians from working overtime on the contract, pull workers from the job, or prevent the contractor from getting a larger job.
Spokesman Frank Keel confirmed Dougherty was detained Wednesday.
"Today, after John just returned home after spending 12 days at his seriously ill wife Ceilie's bedside in the Intensive Care Unit of Jefferson Hospital, they descended again upon John and Ceilie"s home and arrested him again. This isn't a prosecution, it's a persecution," Keel said in a written statement.
Later Wednesday, Dougherty appeared before federal judge Elizabeth Hey in Philadelphia, and pleaded not guilty to all charges before being freed on a $50,000 unsecured bond. Dougherty was already on pretrial release in a federal case charging him and others with misuse of more than $600,000 in union funds.
According to the Associated Press, that 2019 case is set for trial in May.
Hey mentioned that committing other crimes while on pretrial release was a violation, but listened to attorneys' concerns that jailing Dougherty would prevent him from conducting union business and caring for his ailing wife.
“I’m deeply chagrined to be here in this situation two years after setting conditions of release,” Hey told Dougherty. "As I warned you then, I will warn you again. Committing an offense while on pretrial release exposes you to additional charges and penalties."
Dougherty was ordered to have no contact with codefendants.
"Fiocca took advantage of his uncle's position as a powerful leader of an influential union, assaulted a coworker and enriched himself at the expense of an employer," acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Williams said in a news conference after the court proceeding. "And John Dougherty is alleged to have had his nephew's back through all of it."
"The boss' nephew made demands for pay he had not earned. And when he was called on it, [Fiocca] resorted to violence," Philadelphia FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Driscoll said.
Prior to Dougherty's arraignment, Judge Hey arraigned Donna Mangini, of South Philadelphia, whom a court official described as the nurse for Dougherty's wife.
Mangini pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging her with mail fraud. The document says Mangini fraudulently claimed pandemic unemployment assistance benefits despite working as a nurse. Her connection to Dougherty was not described in the court documents.
Keel previously said the suit was an attempt to "smear" the union.