A Man of No Convictions
A union boss is mentioned in an indictment that landed his friend behind bars.

John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty (Image via YouTube)


Jillian Kay Melchior

In 2008, a Philadelphia electrical contractor named Donald “Gus” Dougherty Jr. pleaded guilty to 99 counts, including illegally gifting more than $100,000 in free work to a union boss and stealing from the health and welfare fund of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, of which he is a member.

But since Gus Dougherty was released from prison in November 2010, the same union he stole from has given his company, Dougherty Electric, Inc., at least $270,000 “to subsidize contractor to create jobs,” records filed with the Department of Labor show.

That’s just one of many oddities surrounding the interactions between Gus Dougherty and his company and Philadelphia’s Local 98 and its powerful boss, John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. Though the two men share a last name and have been friends since childhood, they’re not related, according to court records and several newspaper articles.

The story is even stranger, given the new release of a 2006 affidavit by a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who had successfully sought a search warrant for Johnny Doc’s South Philly house. A Philadelphia judge unsealed the document late last month, and though Johnny Doc was never charged with any crimes, the affidavit details a federal agent’s suspicions that he had violated labor laws by accepting a gift from Gus Dougherty and had also committed income-tax evasion and filed false tax returns.

National Review Online e-mailed Local 98 requesting an interview with Johnny Doc. Frank Keel, a communications consultant for Local 98, would not comment, and Johnny Doc did not respond to our request for an interview.

The affidavit does raise questions, though: For example, one might wonder why no charges were ever filed against Johnny Doc, given that the indictment said that the union boss was involved in some of the crimes to which Gus Dougherty pleaded guilty.

For example, Gus Dougherty pleaded guilty to providing approximately $115,600 in free work at Johnny Doc’s row house at East Moyamensing Avenue.

It was illegal for Gus Dougherty, as an employer of union members, to give a bribe, payment, or thing of value to an official of Local 98, which was representing his workers. The same law also makes it illegal for a union official to receive such a gift.

According to the indictment, Gus Dougherty didn’t send Johnny Doc any invoices or bills for his home renovation until after federal agents had already conducted their searches on Gus Dougherty’s home and business. According to the 2006 affidavit, federal agent Kathleen O’Hanlon wrote that “it is my opinion that John J. Dougherty unlawfully received the renovation and electrical work done to his house and that John J. and [his wife] Cecilia Dougherty never intended to pay for any of the renovation and electrical costs incurred by DEI.”

In a sentencing memorandum, Gus Dougherty’s lawyers said he “did not intend to invoice John Dougherty for the full fair market value for the work done.” But that was, they claimed, not “to induce any quid pro quo” but because “John Dougherty is one of the ‘surrogate’ father figures whom [Gus Dougherty’s psychiatrist] refers to in his report. The approval and respect of such figures was ‘vital to [Gus’s] self-esteem.’” Johnny Doc was never charged or convicted for receiving a thing of value from Gus Dougherty.

Gus Dougherty’s indictment also alleges that Johnny Doc, who was serving as president of the Pennsport Civic Association, had asked Gus Dougherty to put a PCA employee, who was the relative of another union official, on Dougherty Electric’s health-coverage plan. At Gus Dougherty’s direction, the indictment says, “forms were prepared which falsely identified [the PCA employee and union-official relative] as an employee of Dougherty Electric and were submitted to Independence Blue Cross to begin her health coverage.” For this, Gus Dougherty pleaded guilty to health-care fraud. Johnny Doc was not charged or convicted for any role in the fraud.

The health-insurance company wasn’t the only one Gus Dougherty was deceiving. He pleaded guilty to stealing approximately $869,599 from the Local 98 health and welfare fund. For years, Dougherty had been maintaining a cash payroll system; between 2001 and 2005 alone, he and his workers received more than $2.5 million in cash.